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Indian Creek joins Brown Bag Diner program

MINGO JUNCTION — Indian Creek Local Schools has joined forces with the Bay Six: Brown Bag Diner to help feed students and their families as communities remain in quarantine from the coronavirus.

District Food Service Director Eric White said food is being provided for the cause and distributed at the Bay Six location at 618 Commercial Ave. in Mingo Junction. Free meals are available from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Monday to Saturday and volunteers also deliver food throughout the community.

“They work off of donations,” White said. “They have people already signed up for meals and we can make the meals for them. The district will still get (federal funding) reimbursements and they don’t have to solicit donations, so it’s a win-win.”

Bay Six, which is a nonprofit organization operated by Bobby and Stacy Westfall, provides a neighborhood center in Mingo Junction and supports kids and adults. Bobby Westfall said the diner began in February for three days a week but expanded from Monday to Saturday amid the shutdown. The diner aims to combat hunger by allowing students and adults to receive small, free brown bag meals chosen from a menu that includes a main choice, salty snack, sweet treat, healthy side and drink but the Wesffalls hope to add healthier and fresher options as the project grows.

“When we heard school would be out for at least three weeks, we got the ball rolling and met with teachers from Hills Elementary,” Westfall said. “We created a plan and went to every single day on March 16.”

He said that extra meals are provided for Sunday and food is available at the building while volunteers also deliver to drop-off sites from Wintersville to Yorkville for residents who signed up for assistance. Westfall estimated that as many as 120 people were helped this past Thursday through the program while the number could grow to 150 in the coming days.

The program is funded and supplied by local donations from businesses and churches. Westfall said Indian Creek’s food service has helped alleviate much of the load by providing half of the items needed for distribution. Meanwhile, White said he contacted the Westfalls to offer help and it could benefit many children living in the community.

“Currently, (it could help) 110 children but will continue to grow,” he added.

The district is still providing lunch and next-day breakfasts five days a week at Indian Creek High School and Indian Creek Middle School from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and also delivers meals to Ridgewood Place Apartments on Two Ridge Road in Wintersville. That program is available to any youth under 18 years old regardless of district enrollment.

“We are currently doing about 30 breakfasts and lunches at the high school and delivering 50 breakfasts and lunches at Ridgewood Apartments,” White noted. “The participation at the middle school continues to grow every day, and I’m thankful that we can help in this time of need.”

And Westfall said he was grateful for the district’s support.

“They provide bags with meals that has become part of what we are giving out. It really lightens the burden we have and gives items for breakfast, so it is mutually beneficial. We started with (feeding) students and now their families. If somebody needs a meal, we make sure they get a meal,” he said. “It’s been awesome because everything we do comes from community partnerships.”

For more information about Bay 6 or to register for meals, call or text (740) 535-6229 or go online to baysixmingo.org.

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