Katie Peterson | Staff Writer

On March 17, Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly closed school buildings statewide for the remainder of the 2019-2020 schoolyear because of COVID-19, leaving questions to how the rest of the schoolyear would continue.

It also left questions on how it would affect families who rely on the breakfast and lunch program the school provides, but Unified School District 207 staff worked to distribute 50 bags of food to families who needed it April 9.

“The school district recognizes the hardship and challenges thrust upon this community because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only has it changed the way USD 207 provides education, it more significantly may affect a family’s ability to work outside the home, find child care, or continue employment due to operational shutdowns of businesses and companies in

some cases,” said Keith Mispagel, USD 207 superintendent. “We support our military families not just through education, but as a family unit. We believe USD 207 should be a good, collaborative and supportive team member to the Fort Leavenworth community whether in good times or challenging times.”

The 50 bags contained food already received and paid for by the district food service program. For the average family of four, there was enough food for five dinners and two breakfasts, Mispagel said.

“My hope for the families that receive the bags is that they are able to smile, take a deep breath and give a sigh of relief, if only temporary, that the food provided will be one less thing to think about or worry about in the near-term,” Mispagel said. “My goal as a superintendent has always been to provide a top-quality education to our mobile military-connected students. To go hand in hand

with that, I believe it’s vitally important to support the whole child and the family. The USD 207 staff is filled with professionals that truly want to give back to our families, and we are continuously looking for ways to do that.”

Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Antwone Jones, who helped distribute bags to the families, said USD 207’s efforts were an example of a “hometown” mentality.

“Fort Leavenworth families are not isolated from the financial impact COVID-19 has placed on our business capacity. A great deal of our spouses are employed in Leavenworth and the surrounding communities,” Jones said. “This is an opportunity to ensure that our soldiers and their families know that the entire collection of Fort Leavenworth entities will be leveraged to assist them in these unprecedented times.

“Dr. Mispagel and the entire USD 207 staff … have continuously shown that

they have a passion for our children and the military members,” Jones said. “Crisis reveals character, and our soldiers can rest assured knowing that we are in this together and will get through this together.”

On April 14, USD 207 will distribute more items for all district families with the T.E.A.M. (Together Everyone Achieves More) Bag Tuesday. The bags will include things like microwave popcorn for a family movie night and other things to inspire quality family time.

“This is a very tight-knit and geographically close community,” Mispagel said. “While we all maintain social distancing and are making sure to protect our families’ health and safety, we can also focus on how to help each other.”

Families will receive more information about how to pick up their T.E.A.M. bag in the upcoming days.

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