Athletes, parents unaware of snack stockpile

Francis Nguyen, staff reporter

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CLEVELAND PUBLICATIONS ARCHIVES
Members of the Seahawks organization and Safeway surprise the audience with free food and healthy snacks from Safeway at the 1st Annual Talon Awards on May 24, 2018. The gift allotted more than 1,000 pounds of snacks for all athletes to access before games and practices, but many athletes were unaware they were available.

Athletes need the correct amount of nutrition on a daily basis in order to play sports and perform well. But last year, due to Cleveland not having a football field, the football team was forced to use the old Van Asselt Playfield as their practice facility. Buses usually didn’t come until about an hour after school. Because the commute took up much of their time, many of the players were not getting the right amount of food between lunch and their practice hours, which typically didn’t start until about 5 p.m.
Knowing this, Safeway donated several boxes of food and $3,000 in Safeway gift cards to the athletics department to provide pre-game meals and healthy snacks to all sports teams. The presentation was made at the school’s first all-sports athletic banquet last May. Since that donation, a number of students have wondered where the food is going or how it’s being distributed.
“What typically happens is that after school, between 3:45 to 4:30, you have all kinds of athletes out here; could be soccer, cheerleaders, basketball, wrestling, football, so many different athletes. And the kids that kind of know that we have nutritious snacks would come and get those. So that’s kind of been a system that’s been going on,” said Jon Hughes, athletic director.
Hughes has been doing his best to distribute the food evenly among our athletes, but a few of them didn’t know about the grant.
“Team dinners were always Thursdays, the day before game days, and snacks were the day of the game before we leave,” says senior football player Jayson Pascua. “But I didn’t know that Hughes had food.”
“The Safeway food isn’t really dinner-type food, it’s been more used as in-between-meals kind of food,” said Hughes. “Energy bars or peanut butter and jelly sandwiches; those are the types of things that Safeway had donated to us.”
The disconnect may stem from the fact that Hughes is in his first year as AD with Cleveland and wasn’t aware of the gift cards or food until late into his position. For much of the summer, administrators had trouble locating the gift cards after both the previous athletic director and the football coach left the program. The food had also been moved multiple times. If an athlete did not attend the athletic banquet last May, they probably had no knowledge the department had these resources available. And even still, some parents who attended the banquet forgot the gift cards for team meals was an option.
Volleyball and basketball parents created a rotation for providing team meals.
“Usually parents take turns bringing food in for game days,” said Wen Eckelberg, a junior who plays both sports. “Volleyball had a lot of people, so there was a lot of things that our parents could do, but basketball has less people so often there would have to be families bringing in multiple meals.”
When asked about their knowledge of the Safeway grant, Eckelberg said she wished she had known it was an option.
“We often have food, but we had no idea that was an option,” she said. “I would’ve gone to [Hughes].”
For his part, Hughes said they didn’t want to blow through all of the money on the Safeway cards right away, which might explain why there was no funding for team meals. Hughes said he did not know how much money was available on the cards.
Athletes can find Hughes in room 3109 to ask for nutritional snacks.

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