The two sons of Uplands parent advisory council (PAC) treasurer Heather Bifford are pleading with other parents: please volunteer for the hot lunch program.
In a video posted to the Uplands Parents’ Facebook page on Feb. 6, Bifford’s sons Carter and Bowen describe the dire state of the program and urge other parents to answer their call.
“Uplands hot lunch program needs your help. The program really needs volunteers to keep running,” Grade 4 student Carter said in the video. “We really love the hot lunch program.”
Kindergarten student Bowen added: “especially the cookies and juice boxes.”
Bifford shared the video to the Uplands Parents’ page on Feb. 6, along with text that said the hot lunch program, which partners with local restaurants to offer a set menu for sale to students on Wednesdays, was close to being cancelled if more parents don’t volunteer to help run it.
“At this point, it’s highly, highly likely that there won’t be a hot lunch next term,” Bifford wrote.
Since posting to Facebook, Bifford said the PAC has filled most of the volunteer spots for the next few months, but added that sometimes, parents end up cancelling or not showing up at all.
“We’ll put Facebook posts like that out there and we’ll get all these volunteers signing up and then slowly they start cancelling or they get busy or they just don’t show up,” Bifford said of the ongoing battle.
“We know that lots of parents are working. Most everyone can’t volunteer at lunchtime or before school, but we keep having to remind people that this program raises a ton of money for the school, so we need that commitment.”
Last year, Uplands hot lunches netted over $10,000 for an accelerated reading program, field trips, classroom supplies, and sports equipment and activities.
“Without a hot lunch program we don’t have any of those things,” Bifford said, adding that the PAC is planning a potential playground expansion that will require lots of funding.
When a volunteer doesn’t show up for a shift, Bifford or another one of the “same six people who usually do the heavy lifting” fill in. Bifford works a 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. job herself, though it’s flexible.
“We are happy to do that, but we spend a lot of our volunteer time running the PAC,” said Bifford. “It would be lovely to get all the parents at some point doing something.”
Open volunteer spots include set up, distribution and clean up of the hot lunch on Wednesdays, or weekend shopping for things like drinks, fruit and veggies.
“We have a great group of core people who help us all the time,” Bifford said. “We would love it if everyone who benefits from the hot lunch program and the funds that are raised through it could at some point help out.”