USD 437 heads into summer with produce distribution

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- The last day of the school year turned into a healthy kick off to summer at Auburn-Washburn Unified School District Thursday.

Over 300 cars lined the road leading up to nearly 900 boxes of produce on the district grounds.

The school district scored the amount of produce through a partnership between its child nutrition program and the United States Department of Agriculture to support farmers nationwide and feed families fresh goods.

"I know that people are directly impacted by what's going on right now,” said Executive Directorof HR and operations for Auburn-Washburn School District Brian White.

“I know a lot of people who have lost a job or income right now so it really feels good to provide a service and to help people with something that can truly make a difference in their lives right now and I'm happy to be a part of that."

The exclusively produce distribution is the first of it's kind for the school district and it's been met with enthusiasm from community members who said the distribution of fruit and vegetables came at the perfect time.

"I take care of kids I babysit and have my own children and it's really tough in this time to give them what they actually need more of than what I can provide at this moment,” said Addie Hester of Topeka.

“With the economy right now it's been hard to get fresh food and vegetables to provide to our kids.”
For the VanDalsem family, the produce has more meaning at a time when staying healthy remains important.

"My children have juvenile onset arthritis and so they take medication for that and I also have some conditions that would make it a little more challenging if we were to catch the coronavirus,” said mom Jennifer. “We remain very careful and we stay at home as often as we can, we order online when we can we get out for essential type things but otherwise we continue to stay home."

She added the empathy from the school district is especially helpful.

“They have reached out through their counselors and teachers they want to make sure the students are doing well and want to make sure families are doing well.”

Kelsey Buehler of Topeka is thrilled to see continued acts of kindness.

"It's really great to see communities coming together and helping out during these hard time and it's been a positive time because you can see how everyone is coming together too and helping each other."

Thursday’s distribution was the first kind that the district said it hopes to continue in upcoming weeks.