OAPSE Making a Difference (OMAD) donates food to 2,000 pre-school and elementary students at Zanesville City Schools; Union members raise thousands each year through the OMAD foundation to feed hungry children
ZANESVILLE – Leaders from the Ohio Association of Public School Employees (OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4) distributed meals and snacks to all pre-school and elementary students in Zanesville City Schools as part of the union’s OAPSE Making a Difference (OMAD) program. The charitable foundation has helped feed more than 10,000 hungry students throughout Ohio and has raised more than $70,000 since its start in 2014.
Officers and members from OAPSE Local 3, which represents workers at Zanesville City Schools, made the delivery Tuesday, May 15, at Zane Grey Elementary School. The local union represents secretaries, paraprofessionals, librarians, food service workers, bus drivers, network specialists, custodians and maintenance workers in Zanesville’s elementary, middle and high schools. On hand to distribute the food bags to students were Jason Stevens, an educational/teacher’s aide at Zanesville Community High School and president of Local 3; Don Fisher, vice president of Local 3 and a maintenance workers; Vickie Ritchie, head cook and past local secretary; and Roger Seevers, custodian at Zane Grey. They were joined by OAPSE Executive Director Joe Rugola; State Vice President Lois Carson; and Eastern District Executive Board Member Deb Adams.
“OAPSE started our foundation because we see children every day – in Zanesville and in schools across Ohio – who just don’t have enough to eat. Our members know that kids can’t be at their best when they are hungry. So, we started our foundation to raise money and provide food for some of the neediest children in our state. As parents and grandparents, OAPSE members know every family can use a little help, and we wanted to make a meaningful contribution,” Stevens said.
Volunteers stuffed tote bags with snacks and meals at the union’s statewide convention May 9-11. Union members, local unions, districts and OAPSE staff donated more than $15,000 to make the project possible. And OAPSE has worked closely with Champion Foodservice on all its OMAD projects. Champion Foodservice gives OMAD a great price on the food and allows OAPSE locals to feed students every year.
Past projects of the 501(c)(3) organization include establishing a permanent food bank at Fairland Local Schools in southern Ohio – among the poorest school districts in the state. OMAD has provided take-home meals and tote bags to 2,000 students at select elementary schools in Columbus City Schools; 1,500 students in East Cleveland City Schools; and 1,800 students in Lima City Schools. OAPSE is the union for workers in all four school districts.
“We are proud to serve children and families as members of OAPSE. And it means a lot to us to give back to our communities,” said Sandy Wheeler, state secretary of the union for 34,000 members in Ohio and president of the non-profit OMAD.
OAPSE/AFSCME Local 4 is the most powerful voice for the hard-working men and women who serve Ohio’s school children, community and technical college students, those in early childhood education programs, children and adults with special needs and those who take advantage of our public libraries and other community services.