NEW LEXINGTON – The Ohio Children’s Hunger Alliance (OCHA) has recognized the Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center (MVESC) with the Afterschool Program of the Year Award. Larissa Cline, assistant director of 21st Century Programs, spearheaded the effort to keep the afterschool food program running after the pandemic closed schools last March. The award recognized Cline’s efforts as a result of her outstanding support and commitment to improve food access for children in the afterschool program once the mandated shutdown of schools took place in March 2020.
Cline began her career as the family and community liaison for New Lexington Schools in 2013. She has now worked at the MVESC for four years. In her current role at the MVESC, Cline monitors 17 afterschool programs in seven school districts.
“Initially we were told that our afterschool program had to stop when the governor’s mandate was issued last March, but we stayed at it,” stated Cline.
She says that her primary role was making arrangements over the phone to keep food deliveries moving. Cline credits the frontline individuals who continued delivering food for the Ohio Children’s Hunger Alliance plaque that hangs on her office wall. However, the people at OCHA recognized the driving force to continue the program was Larissa Cline.
“Every district came up with different ways to deliver the food. Crooksville boxed the meals and delivered them with their school buses,” Cline recounted. “Some of the districts went door-to-door to make sure food was delivered.”
Getting the food to the kids was the most challenging aspect of the shutdown for Cline. The dedication previously described kept a quality source of food flowing to children throughout the year.
“Do you know the Reeds? That’s my family,” explained Cline. “We have the reputation for being, let’s say ‘persistent’, especially when someone tells us we can’t do something,” she added with a laugh.
Not only did the OCHA recognize Cline for her efforts, so does Bobbi Holcombe, 21st century program director and regional site manager at the MVESC in New Lexington.
“We would not have received this award without Larissa’s dedication to the students and families we serve,” Holcombe said. “She recognizes the food insecurity issues in southeast Ohio, and she always goes above and beyond to ensure no students go hungry.”
Larissa Cline’s office can be found at 1605 Airport in New Lexington so don’t bother looking for her on the path to least resistance. When the afterschool program looked to be discontinued, she thought it merely looked challenging, and forged the successful effort to keep the program running. The Muskingum Valley Educational Service Center and children in seven school districts are fortunate to have the right person in the right place all the time.