REDMOND — Kenzie Curtis, a senior at Ridgeview High School, met two classmates in the school parking lot Thursday and they filled her Nissan Xterra with large grocery bags full of donated food.
The three students then delivered the bags of mostly nonperishable snacks to elementary school students, who will need the food over the weekend.
“It’s food that kids can eat on the weekends when they don’t have access to the lunches at school,” Curtis said. “It’s food they can make on their own.”
Students in leadership classes at Ridgeview and Redmond high schools have shopped for the food and delivered it every week since March, when students returned to in-person learning.
The two high schools help up to 20 families with elementary school students and deliver at least two dozen bags of food each week.
The food drive program is funded and supported by the Family Access Network, a nonprofit organization that supports children’s wellbeing in Central Oregon, and Jericho Road, a group that runs a food pantry in Redmond.
Each week, the students use gift cards from the Family Access Network to buy food at the Dollar Tree, Grocery Outlet and Fred Meyer. The students usually buy items such as peanut butter, crackers, soups, bread and bananas for the elementary school children.
Curtis and her Ridgeview High School classmates, Faye Davis, a 17-year-old junior, and Lucy Stancliff, a 15-year-old freshman, delivered the food Thursday to M.A. Lynch Elementary School in Redmond and Tumalo Elementary School.
The Redmond High School students deliver their food to Terrebonne Elementary School and Sage Elementary School in Redmond.
Davis said she always enjoys delivering food to M.A. Lynch because she went to school there and feels connected to the students. She doesn’t get to meet with the elementary students in person because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but she likes seeing them walking between classrooms. She knows the food drive program is helping them.
“I lived here my whole life and I went to Lynch so it’s nice to know you are putting something back into the community that you used to be a part of,” Davis said.
At Redmond High School, 18-year-old senior Daisy Altamirano is a part of the food-drive program.
Altamirano said it started as a good volunteer opportunity, but has grown into something she is passionate about.
“After getting involved and seeing how many bags we do each week, it’s a pretty impactful thing,” Altamirano said, “especially knowing you are helping out and giving back to the community. And making a positive impact.”
Altamirano hopes the program continues for future school years.
“It’s very helpful,” Altamirano said. “I could see it going further and making more bags in the future.”