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Rotarians working to address food insecurity on San Juan Island

With financial support from the Soroptimist International of Friday Harbor, which recently provided a donation of $10,500, a district matching grant from Rotary International, donations through the San Juan Community Foundation, and the largess of our many individual donors, the Rotary Club of the San Juan Islands is now able to expand the reach of its 36 Weekends program to 52 weekends. The 36 Weekends program provides weekend nutrition to families struggling with un- and under-employment as well as the inflated cost of food. Food is delivered to the student’s home each week on Thursday or Friday.

Enrollment for the program has reopened.  Parents should be aware that this is not a government program and all information is kept in strict confidence. We are reaching out to those looking for assistance. Students in the HeadStart program, Friday Harbor Elementary School, Friday Harbor Middle School and the High School are eligible.

Entering the program is as simple as going online to https://rotaryfoundationsanjuanislands.org/36-weekends or contacting Pau Mayer at 206.369.3907. The online enrollment forms are in both Spanish and English. Alternatively, parents can fill out a PDF form by hand and turn it into the school office manager or counselor.

Nearly 50% of island children attending public schools are enrolled in free and reduced-cost lunch programs. These children are all subject to food insecurity, especially on the weekends when they do not have access to school food support.

“We are grateful for the recent Soroptimist donation. When we work with other service clubs it magnifies the work our organizations can accomplish. We hope this is a first step towards an expanded working relationship with other organizations to help our community solve systemic challenges,” said Susan Martin president of both the local Rotary club and the local League of Women Voters Chapter.

She also noted that, “Teachers have reported improvements in children’s reading skills, math skills, ability to focus and to do partner work when they have enough food to flourish. And, it's not simply about nutrition. It's about empathy. It's a message that during these difficult times, someone is thinking about you.” 

Rotary is always looking for individuals or entities wishing to donate or volunteer for 36 weekends, please go to https://rotaryfoundationsanjuanislands.org/36-weekends for more information or the SJI Community Foundation at https://sjicf.fcsuite.com/erp/donate/create/fund?funit_id=2783.

Interested in volunteering to pack or deliver food? Contact Steve Bowman (360) 378-5814. Your funds and/or time will help reduce food insecurity and increase access to healthy food for children throughout the island.

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