Great News: Now You Can Help Local Restaurants and ELPS at the Same Time

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East Lansing High School before the pandemic.

Recognizing that many local families are facing food insecurity due to layoffs and furloughs, East Lansing Public Schools provided more than 500 bags of food to hundreds of students’ families for Thanksgiving.

Now, the district is extending the call to the community so that it can provide 750 bags of food and gift cards to local eateries to help through winter break. This call provides a great opportunity for people in the area to support local businesses and the ELPS effort at the same time – by buying gift cards from local businesses and donating them to the schools for distribution to needy families.

Donate a gift card from a grocery store or another East Lansing business.

Through this option, you can purchase gift cards not only from a local grocery store (like Campbell’s Market Basket) but also any local, East Lansing restaurant or business. (You can find some ideas here.) Buy as many as you want in whatever increments you would like. Just make sure to label the amount on the gift card, then get them to ELPS.

Superintendent Dori Leyko hopes this will be a win-win for East Lansing. ELPS families can use the gift cards to buy family gifts or get takeout from restaurants all while supporting locally-owned businesses that also need this support.

Once the district receives the cards, they will be sent out to families. Administrators will do their best to match what they receive with the needs and wishes of specific families.

If you would like to participate, you have several ways that you can get your gift cards to the distributors:

  • You can drop cards off at East Lansing High School during this Thursday’s (Dec. 10) food distribution between noon and 1 p.m. Individuals stationed near the tennis court entrance will collect the gift cards.
  • You can also drop by Whitehills Elementary School’s office on Wednesday, Dec. 9, between 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. and on Friday, Dec. 11, between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.
  • The last option is to mail them in to ELPS Holiday Support, c/o Superintendent’s Office, 501 Burcham Drive, East Lansing, MI  48823. (Do this soon!)

Donate supplemental food and personal item bags to be distributed with ELPS regular meal distribution.

Similar to the effort leading up to Thanksgiving, ELPS is asking people to sign up to fill bags with breakfast and lunch items, snacks, canned fruits and vegetables, side dishes like rice and potatoes, juice boxes, and personal hygiene items like toothpaste, toothbrushes, body wash, lotion, and lip balm.

These food bags are intended to help families during the two-week-long winter break and space in refrigerators and freezers might be limited. Therefore, items that do not require refrigeration –  cereal cups, breakfast bars, granola bars, fruit snacks, cheese sticks, canned pasta, and tuna fish packets – are a good idea. Fresh fruits and vegetables with a longer shelf life (like potatoes and unpeeled carrots) are always a good idea too.

Those interested can sign up here. Keep in mind that one entry in the sign-up means you are volunteering to provide 5 bags. You can also sign up to provide vegetarian and gluten-free bags to meet the dietary requirements of some students.

Once you have filled your bags, you should drop them off at East Lansing High School on Dec. 17 between 9 a.m and 10 a.m. Enter the campus near the tennis courts, and you will be directed to the loading dock where your bags will be collected.

The bags that you provide will then be distributed with the weekly food distribution.

Make sure ELi can continuing caring for our community in 2021.

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