BY DEBORAH MOON
B’nai B’rith Camp has provided free meals to nearby Lincoln City children who meet guidelines for free lunch since 2013. With COVID-19 impacting school food programs and increasing food insecurity in the state, this year the Jewish camp expanded and launched its summer food program early.
“As of Monday (June 15), we are providing breakfast and lunch for seven days a week to 200 to 300 kids a day,” says BB Camp Executive Director Michelle Koplan.
The meals are provided to children who meet the USDA/Oregon Dept. of Education Child Nutrition Program requirements for the Summer Food Service Program.
“When schools were closed a few months ago, I reached out to our housing partner, NW Coastal Housing, to make sure that the kids in the two apartment complexes we have been providing food to during the summer were going to be receiving food,” says BB Camp Operations Director Allison Kaufman.
At that time, the Lincoln County School District had begun to use bus routes to provide free meals to all kids in the area. But at the beginning of June, the school district transitioned to its summer meals model, which is a grab-and-go program in the county, with one site in Lincoln City.
“They (NW Coastal Housing) asked us to take on a larger piece and start ASAP,” says Michelle.
With the help of NW Coastal Housing and a child nutrition specialist from the Dept. of Education, BB Camp was able to put together a program in just a few days, says Allison.
In addition to the meals served to campers in the Lincoln City BB Day Camp, sack meals for three or four days are available for pickup two days a week at BB Camp and at two apartment complexes operated by NW Coastal Housing. The meals are prepared by BB Camp Food Service Chef Becci Bazen and two kitchen staff members. A volunteer from NW Coastal Housing picks up the meals from the BB Camp kitchen and takes them to the locations on the designated day for that site.
“These kids are very, very hungry, and we are so delighted we are able to provide food for kids,” says Michelle.
In 2006 Michelle created the day camp on the Jewish overnight camp’s facilities on Devil’s Lake to serve area families who need summer child care and families vacationing in the area who want to give their children a taste of BB Camp. (See related story)