Student volunteers stand outside of a fully packed car with food boxes ready to be distributed to the families and students of the trailer homes. Scioli’s efforts, alongside the coordination of NC farmers and the Wake County commissioner, created a different solution for LRHS registered students to receive free and reduced meals. (Photo permission of Angela Scioli.)
Leesville Road High School world studies teacher, Angela Scioli, partnered with volunteers, wholesalers, and county commissioners to establish a coordinated Covid-19 relief aid program for families and students in need during the global pandemic.
The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted the process of breakfast and lunch distribution for LRHS students. Typically, students would receive a free and reduced lunch from the school’s cafeteria. However, with the school’s campus closed to students and the public for the first semester, students are unable to receive these free meals. Without receiving these free meals, certain students are left uncertain of where their next meal will come from.
That’s when Angela Scioli steps in. Scioli is aware of the food distribution process for students. As a teacher, Scioli introduced a ‘food cabinet’ in the corner of her classroom. “Without student access to school breakfast and lunch, Scioli found a solution.”
“Normally, my instinct in a problematic situation is to act, but then it all came clear to me that if we all do different individual things to try and fix the problem, uncoordinatedly, it could actually be less effective than if we just take the time to organize and fix the problem in a coordinated fashion,” said Scioli via Google Meet.
Scioli planned on jumping head first into solving the food distribution dilemma by donating individually, which became clear to be less effective. “I called off all the dogs and said to just wait, can we just wait?,” said Scioli.
Scioli then began coordinating with Wake County Commissioner, Vickie Adamson, to further brainstorm ideas on how to help distribute food and necessities to students and families in need during the pandemic. Adamson then came up with an idea including farmers and how their waste of produce due to closed restaurants and markets could be the key to solving the issue.
Adamson and Scioli further explained and discussed their reasoning to each other, eventually coming up with the master plan. “Vickie [Adamson] had been listening to the radio when she heard how NC farmers were further destroying their crops because restaurants were closed and therefore not buying the food in bulk numbers as they normally would,” said Scioli.
These farmers could then not re-package the food for individual sale fast enough before it was to be destroyed; therefore hundreds and thousands of crops and fresh produce were going to waste because restaurants could not afford to pay for them while closed.
“If you’re a farmer who sells twenty pound boxes of potatoes to a restaurant, you can’t in one weeks time start selling potatoes to a grocery store that has already been selling potatoes, in that case the food must go to waste,” said Scioli.
Because of this, Scioli and Adamson were able to turn it around into a positive win-win scenario for both the farmers and students in need. Scioli then discovered that if they can get a hold of the crops and produce before it was destroyed, then she and a handful of volunteers could find ways to distribute it amongst the students who need the meals.
“Since it costs money for farmers to destroy their crops, we figured if we just took the food to donate/distribute it, it would take less of the farmer’s paycheck to get rid of the food,” said Scioli. NC farmers agreed to this proposal by Scioli with ease, for it took less out of farmers’ pockets to get rid of the crops.
The USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) agreed to give a waiver to let food be delivered to families (and students) by means other than a cafeteria manager handing out trays of food. With the USDA waiver, the county government communicated with NC farmers to contract with two local food distribution wholesalers, in which to create boxes of food to be handed out to families and students.
Both waiver and farmer support helped Scioli’s situation tremendously, for she now is able to provide registered students with the food and meals they need. However, Scioli needed a distribution process.
Volunteers began signing up to help team up with the wholesalers in distributing these food boxes to families in need. “Now, instead of needing people to donate food, we just need the volunteer manpower to distribute these boxes to families and students,” said Scioli.
The wholesalers would drop off 150-200 boxes of food at certain locations in Raleigh to be distributed and Scioli along with a handful of volunteers then hand out the boxes to families and students of LRHS.
Once the pipeline for Scioli’s distribution process became established, the distribution of food and goods helped the LRHS community tremendously. With the support of student volunteers, Wake County Commissioner, NC farmers, and the waiver of the USDA, Scioli is further given the opportunity to help the students get their food and meals by means other than the cafeteria. Scioli has contributed greatly to food distribution efforts during this pandemic and the Leesville community is so thankful.