OMAD Targets Hunger in Canton City Schools

CANTON – On May 21, OAPSE local and district leaders in Canton and the North Central District provided meals and snacks to all pre-K-second grade elementary students in Canton City Schools as part of the union’s OAPSE Making a Difference (OMAD) program. The charitable foundation has helped feed more than 12,000 hungry students throughout Ohio and has raised more than $85,000 since its start in 2014.

Officers and members from OAPSE locals 107, 161, 161A, and 609, which represent workers at Canton City Schools, made the delivery to 400 students at Harter Elementary School, and staff at the six other pre-k through second grade schools handed out the meals and snacks to the other 1,600 students. The local union represents bus drivers, bus aides, mechanics, maintenance workers, food service workers, library aides, custodians, security guards, educational aides and paraprofessional workers in Canton’s elementary, middle and high schools.

A 32-year Canton City Schools employee, Jackie Leisure works in the child nutrition department at Canton McKinley High School and is vice president of Local 609. She also serves as an alternate on the OAPSE executive board and as the East Central District treasurer.

“OAPSE started our foundation because we see children every day – in Canton 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,” Leisure said.

Volunteers from locals 107,161,161A and 609 stuffed tote bags with snacks and meals. Union members, local unions, districts and OAPSE staff donated more than $13,000 to make this year’s 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; providing 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; 1,800 students in Lima City Schools; and 2,000 students in Zanesville City Schools. OAPSE is the union for workers in all five 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.

Also at Harter Elementary to distribute totes were OAPSE Executive Director Joe Rugola; State President JoAnn Johntony; State Vice President Lois Carson; Local 609 President Ira Essner; North Central District Secretary Sue Harris; and leaders from all the Canton City locals.

To see highlights from the day, click on the video below.