Kent parents step in to provide student meals during teacher strike

Kent School District students have been out of school for nearly a week as the teacher strike continues. 

Outside of all the obvious disruptions from a strike, food insecurity is now a major concern. 

Since the strike started on Aug. 25, families who rely on free and reduced lunch have not been able to get any from the school district. 

Kent school board votes 'no action' for possible lawsuit against teachers union

The Kent school board has voted 2-2 for a resolution that would have allowed the district to bring a lawsuit against the Kent Education Association (KEA), whose members are currently on strike, delaying the start of the school year. 

In fact, 52% of 25,000 students count on free and reduced meals that’s roughly 12,500 students not getting the meals they’re relying on. 

Parents are now stepping up to meet the demands, thanks to a $10,000 anonymous donation along with community contributions. 

Meg Heron whose two children attend Kent schools says the impact is far more significant than anticipated. 

"Some children in the school district this is the only meal that they get is lunch at school during the day," Heron said. 

She is one of the many parents lending a helping hand to help organize and prepare meals. 

Their efforts started on Aug. 29 with 25 lunches across a few campuses. 

On Thursday she and several others started preparing at least 3,000 meals including mac and cheese, goldfish, fruit snacks, granola bars, apple sauce, and juice which will be distributed across 17 schools during the holiday weekend. 

Aimee Brock, who has four children in the district says she’s amazed at how much their efforts have grown but is frustrated to know it’s not enough. 

Not only that, there is no meal distribution by the district. 

"It’s very frustrating to hear, just from an outsider's perspective that there is food sitting, waiting, and families that need it that you know should be receiving it at school daily, and they're not receiving anything," Brock said. 

"We have been told that when food gets close to being expired, that they will be donating it to food banks," Heron said. 

Fox 13 reached out to the district asking why meals haven’t been distributed and if there was a plan in the works, but they did respond to our calls or emails. 

We also reached out to the USDA asking what the regulations are and said the proper agency would get back to us Friday morning. 

Mandy Grear, who is lending a helping hand creating meals for students along with her daughter, says they’re prepared to help until there is no longer a need. 

"If they aren't going to do it, the community clearly will," Grear said. 

Parents say they will keep feeding students as long as the strike continues – hoping to grow their efforts for the students in their community. 

"To see the smiles on kids' faces and give them a little giggle and some happiness for the day," Heron said.