Going the Extra Mile

By Sue Moore

Tobey elementary school principal, Mike Barwegen started the “Stay home, stay safe” food delivery like all the other school volunteers back in March. He would ride the bus just to see the kids from his school and help deliver food packages.

At the Portage Terrace Mobile Home Park, he realized the bus couldn’t go back into the area; there was no room to turn around. The families had to come to the bus stop on Portage Road. Only three families showed up. They were Tobey school kids and he knows them.

It takes a lot of responsibility for kids to show up at the exact time the bus would be stopping, he observed.

To solve the problem, he recruited Sawyer Duncan, his physical education teacher, to go with him to take all the food packages in the school van, drive into the park and deliver door to door. Lots of pre-elementary kids live there and can benefit from the program, the three and four years olds who really need additional nutrition. The delivery takes about three hours on Wednesdays for up to 46 families to receive lunches and breakfasts. Add to that the many gallons of milk, with four gallons delivered to one house for six kids and two big boxes of food.

The families are grateful. Some are dependent on the deliveries right now. They do have internet connections and have Chromebooks, with some having discounted rates on internet connections. If that wasn’t available, they gave out wi-fi hot spots to some families as they delivered food along with copies of work for the kids.

Barwegen like to talk to the families. “Some of the young kids follow the van on their bikes. Kids see it and know it’s them. They are usually asking for chocolate milk as that’s a big hit every time. It’s a treat for them. There are up to over 40 kids on the list now. It’s not just an extra thing, they are very dependent on the food. It’s saving these kids’ lives now,” he said.

“Sawyer who is in his twenties, does all the heavy lifting and I do all the talking,” Barwagen reported.

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