Jefferson County Public Schools (JCPS) said they got more than a million meals to a large number of students a week ago to try and hold them over during the winter break. However it still wasn't enough. Nutrition workers needed to turn away many families in the meal sites last Thursday after food ran out.

Now, several grassroots organizations is stepping up to help fill the space.

On Monday, volunteers Quinton Johnson and Stephon Lamont were giving out frozen meals to passersby beyond BLM Church on West Broadway.

“That sounds delicious,” one man said as he grabbed a plastic container of Asian chicken and rice, and chicken alfredo pasta.

The meals were cooked by volunteers with the Lee Initiative, run by local chef Edward Lee. Johnson and Lamont had answered a callout from Shauntrice Martin, who runs Feed The West, a food justice organization that provides groceries to individuals, mostly in Louisville's West End.

“They needed meals in the western world because the JCPS meals had run out,” Lamont said. Lamont is with another food justice organization, Feed Louisville, which focuses on getting food to individuals experiencing homelessness.

Last Thursday, when JCPS ran out of food, Martin started hearing from families that they needed extra meals. JCPS says the district provided about two weeks worth of meals and snacks to 21,000 students to obtain them with the winter break, when meal sites are closed. But there are approximately 65,000 JCPS students who depend on the college district for food. Some sites ran from meals within an hour or so.

Martin said she and Leo Braddick, who runs Children Shouldn't Hunger, were talking online about the problem.

“We all just talked over social networking and were like, 'we have to do something,'” Martin said.

Through Feed Free airline, Martin said she has collected enough money and resources to provide 8,000 meals now to JCPS families. Families can request meals or groceries online. Volunteers with Black Lives Matter Louisville have been delivering meals. Feed the West will also hold several meal pickup sites on Wednesday afternoon.

tweet tweet! Free meal pickup tomorrow!#FeedTheWest

— BlackMarketKY (@BlackMarketKY) December 22, 2021

Volunteers will be going door-to-door in the Park Hill community to hand out free meals on Wednesday afternoon as well.

Martin said she wants to utilize JCPS continuing to move forward to see if Feed Free airline can help the district fill gaps in its food service. Many in Louisville faced food insecurity prior to the pandemic, but job losses, quarantines and sickness have dramatically increased the amount of people who need food assistance.

“We've just seen that lots of bigger organizations and institutions aren't able to pivot or adjust at all,” Martin said.

JCPS director of nutrition services Julia Baushcer told WFPL News last week the district had maxed out its kitchen and cafeteria space in order to provide the quantity of food it did at one time. Before the district ran out, food workers provided a lot more than 1,000,000 meals as part of “Operation Winter Break.”

You can donate to give The West by sending money through CashApp or Venmo with #FeedTheWest in the memo.

CashApp: $BlackMarketKY or $ChangeTodayChangetmw

Venmo: @BlackMarketKY or @ChangeTodayChangeTMW

Those wanting to volunteer to pass through out meals with Feed The West should meet at 2 p.m. Wednesday at Logan Street Market.

To request groceries from Feed Free airline, you are able to complete this Google form.