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Mon May 11, 2020, 09:20 PM

Appalachia's Front Porch Network Is A Lifeline During The Pandemic

'Appalachia’s Front Porch Network Is a Lifeline. A traditional gathering place where the public meets the private is now the critical point of contact for families isolated during the pandemic.' By Alison Stine, YES! Magazine/Common Dreams, May 10, 2020.

On any day in Appalachia, you can find gifts in front of houses, left on porches for the people inside: mushrooms just foraged, cookies freshly baked. The porch is an extension of the home in Appalachia—not only a gathering spot for conversation, but a traditional sharing place. If you want to exchange tools, plants, or hand-me-downs with your neighbor: you put them on the porch. In times of struggle, porches are the vessel to deliver food: frozen meals to new parents, casseroles for grieving families.

Now, because of COVID-19, those practices are becoming more important than ever. It’s not homemade food appearing on neighbor’s porches so much as home-sewn masks, or bags of groceries at the homes of senior citizens. And while school buses are no longer shuttling children to and from schools in the region, the buses are certainly not parked and empty.

More than half of all children in Appalachian Ohio receive free or reduced-price lunch, as reported by the Ohio PTA in 2013. At some elementary schools, the participation rate is almost 75%. In many cases, food distributed to Appalachian children at school feeds a family; thanks to programs such as Blessings in a Backpack, some children go home for the weekends with backpacks of shelf-stable food like canned tuna and peanut butter, designed to help out the whole household.

- Piedmont Elementary School principal Ashley James, left, & Kanawha County school bus driver Paul Cochran, center, unload food boxes at City Park in Charleston, West Virginia. Photo: Brian Ferguson/100 Days in Appalachia.

School bus routes were already established, and the drivers known to families, so it was a natural step that a familiar person could deliver meals to children. In the Appalachian county of Athens, Ohio, in an email to parents, the school asked families to call if they needed food, and meals would be provided by bus drivers, whether or not children had previously been enrolled in free lunch programs.

How are those children—and their families—getting food during the pandemic? Throughout the region, it’s from their school bus drivers.

In West Virginia’s Kanawha County, school bus drivers are leaving meals on porches. Every Monday, drivers drop off enough breakfasts and lunches to last a week. If children are sheltering at places other than at home during the pandemic, families have been asked to call the bus terminal, because the school district tries to reach as many people as possible.

By the first week of April, Kanawha County Schools was providing more than 12,500 meals, with food “delivered to every bus stop along our normal routes,”...

Read More, https://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/05/10/appalachias-front-porch-network-lifeline

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Reply Appalachia's Front Porch Network Is A Lifeline During The Pandemic (Original post)
appalachiablue May 2020 OP
samnsara May 2020 #1
appalachiablue May 2020 #2

Response to appalachiablue (Original post)

Mon May 11, 2020, 09:24 PM

1. i live down the road from a ''one room school-house'...a 100 yr old school district..

....with about 30 kids k-5. Every day there is a school bus in their parking lot handing out lunches. When I run into town and pass them, I honk and wave.

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Response to samnsara (Reply #1)

Mon May 11, 2020, 09:44 PM

2. Good for u, lunch delivery is great for kids & community.

How inspiring to see people pulling together in Appalachia, the US and all over during this difficult time. Maybe some of this communal spirit will stick, it needs to.

My grandfather taught school when he was 16 years old in rural Appalachia c. 1905. I don't know if the school building was one room, perhaps. He grew up to become a businessman.

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