Building Bigger

High School Cooking Lesson: Cooking for Others

Student-led non-profit to provide cooked meals along with groceries to help families during COVID-19

Our cause meets a very unmet need in our community.
• Families are struggling
• Income in Josephine County is lower income per capita than most of the people in our state.
• We have higher unemployment rates in our region than most other counties in our state.
• The insecurity has increased for many families since the onset of COVID-19.
• While there are free or reduced meals available for school aged children during the school year, this program does not cover weekends or the summer months or pre-school aged children.

With all the struggles going on, high school students decided to take on this food challenge by starting to cook for the needy families and children in our area. We are providing two types of food: pre-made meals cooked by high school students and boxes of groceries.

In the 2021 summer JCF provided boxes with one week’s worth of groceries to 70 families for the ten-week summer period. With an average of two children per family, that is 140 children receiving food.

Poverty and COVID-19 have left people needing necessities – one of these necessities being food. To top this off, almost 1,000 students in Josephine County are homeless and another 60% live in low-income families already struggling to make ends meet. With jobs shutting down, putting food on the table, and purchasing the basic necessities is nearly impossible as many of these family’s live paycheck to paycheck.

This program began about a month after the community was asked to stay home due to COVID-19. Families were still able to receive school sack lunches by bus and at school locations; however, the need for groceries due to job layoffs was at an all-time high.

Students also saw the need for easy, delicious, cooked meals would be for families. So, they started making ready to warm meals for families.

Students are cooking and acquiring food to provide groceries to 70 families last year and we believe the number will increase to 75 or more this upcoming year.

The lasting impact on the community will last a lifetime. These families benefitting from our cooked meals and boxed groceries will receive an immediate boost in their lives and for the rest of the school and summer months. But it will have a lifetime impact as they will always remember the impact of the food program had in their struggling times during COVID-19.

It will and has impacted the students in a positive way. The students are serving and making a difference in community at a young age. They are our future, and they need to start their adult life with a service heart. This project is a perfect example of many high school students serving and caring for others. This is the biggest and best impact of this entire project.

The students at Hidden Valley High School partner with the following local agencies and businesses: The Food Bank, ATRIO, Three Rivers School District, All Care, Dutch Bros., Ford Family Foundation, HV Pantry, and Fort Vanoy Farms.