If you peek into the average classroom in Spokane Valley, you may not be able to tell which students are living in a car or going without food most nights. A few years back Spokane Valley HEART (Homeless Education and Resource Team), a collaborative program of Central Valley, East Valley and West Valley school districts, conducted research indicating that over 800 students were living in emergency, temporary or transitional housing situations.
Pat Dockrey, founder of the Food 4 Thought program, has come to the rescue with the help of the Liberty Lake Kiwanis, the Spokane Valley Partners Food Bank and several local churches throughout the Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake area.
Every week during the school year, Dockrey and his volunteers assemble food packs – made of items such as canned chili and packaged oatmeal – that a child could prepare and would eat.
Members from the Spokane Valley Baptist Church, Sullivan Seventh Day Adventist Church, Advent Lutheran Spokane, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints help with the delivery of the food at schools in the Central Valley School District and offices in the East Valley School District. Children in disadvantaged circumstances take the food home on the weekend, many times preparing it themselves and often sharing with their families.
In June of 2014, Food 4 Thought was reaching about 185 children per week. Then Sherrie Davies of Liberty Lake approached Dockrey and the Liberty Lake Kiwanis with the idea of a food drive.
Volunteers went to work and the first annual Food 4 Thought food drive became a reality. The inaugural event was a great success with area residents pitching in to donate 8,500 pounds of food. In 2015, members from nine LDS wards in the Spokane Valley Stake turned out to gather food in September. Families walked through neighborhoods in Liberty Lake, Otis Orchards, Newman Lake, Greenacres, and Veradale, placing bags on doors one day and picking them up a few days later. Over 16,000 lbs. of food were loaded in two trucks, one parked at the LDS chapel in Liberty Lake and the other at Central Valley High School.
The 2015-16 school year saw the distribution list double as well with 367 students having food to take home for the weekend on a regular basis.
“We are in almost every school in the Central Valley District,” Dockrey said. “And we are delivering in bulk to East Valley School District. They have their own distribution system.”
The 2016 Food 4 Thought drive is set for Sept. 17. Watch for a flyer and bag at your door or just go to the store. Cash donations are also welcome and barrels can be found at Liberty Lake City Hall and other places around town for drop-off donations.
Items needed for Food 4 Thought Drive – Sept. 17
Cold cereal bowls
Ramen or soup bowl
Macaroni and cheese
Ravioli (canned with meat)
Spaghetti-Os (canned with meat)
Chili with meat
Fruit and Snacks:
Cheese and crackers