To support families struggling with food insecurity, Durango School District 9-R will host the Pack the Pantry food drive this week at local schools.
A live radio broadcast with American General Media, 92.9-FM and 99X, will also take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, with collection bins in the drop-off circle at Durango High School.
Leading up to the Sunday food drive, bags for collecting food donations for Pack the Pantry will be available from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. starting Thursday outside DHS, Durango School District Administration Building, Sunnyside Elementary, Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary, Florida Mesa Elementary and Animas Valley Elementary.
Forty food bags for families in need will be available at each location, and more will be added if needed. Families may visit any location and pick up one bag per student. They are asked to fill the bags with nonperishable food items and return the bags to collection bins at the schools during regular school hours. District custodians will be on-site to monitor drop-offs.
Recent school closures have changed the way food is distributed to students. Remote meal service in the Durango School District served about 1,000 meals per day at 29 remote sites across the county during the closure. Backpacks sent home with students increased from 200 to 400 per weekend.
During the school closures, students and families also lost access to the DHS food pantry. The district donated remaining food supplies to the Manna soup kitchen backpack program, but much of the stock has been distributed.
Tuesday was the last day of the district’s remote meal service, and with the DHS food pantry remaining closed until further notice, many families will need food assistance over the summer.
9-R Public Information Officer Julie Pop said American General Media reached out to the district and offered to help organize a food drive to support the Manna Summer Backpack Program, which supplies La Plata County youths with food-filled backpacks during the summer months.
American General Media, 9-R, Albertsons and others have collaborated on similar food drives in the past. With current restrictions, Albertsons was unable to host the fundraiser as it usually does, but it has donated $2,500 to the cause.
Additional collection bins for the backpack program will be available from 2 to 5 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday at DHS, Florida Mesa Elementary, Animas Valley Elementary and Park Elementary. Bins will be set up to accommodate social-distancing guidelines.
Food collected will be distributed to students across the county at DHS, Durango School District Administration Building, Sunnyside Elementary, Fort Lewis Mesa Elementary, Florida Mesa Elementary and Animas Valley Elementary.
Future food drives may be organized if more supplies are needed.