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Beat summer hunger, become a Grub Club volunteer

Rows of brown paper bags are lined up ready to be filled with the day’s lunch. Nearby, gracious hands make sandwiches and fill snack bags. 


You can tell the whole operation is overseen by a former school teacher. There are charts. There are schedules. But most of all, there are big hearts.


The Grub Club in Tillamook is an entirely volunteer-run program that serves free lunches to kids 18 years and younger through the summer months. Former Tillamook School District elementary school teacher Scott Wenzel is in his second year overseeing the program, third year involved.


“In June, we average about 100 lunches a day,” he said. “Then in late July and all of August, we average about 300 a day when the summer schools are in session.”


On weekday mornings, volunteers arrive at Tillamook High School to prepare the day’s lunch. Sandwich makers, small baggers, ice chests preparers, and drivers are all essential to the operation. Each lunch is packed with a protein, vegetable, fruit, something to drink (generally milk), and sometimes a treat.


“I had to send a month-long sample menu to the Oregon Department of Education [ODE], and then they approve it,” Wenzel said.

After preparations, the lunches are packed and delivered to Grub Club locations at: Champion Park Apartments, Tillamook County Family YMCA, Glenhaven Park Apartments, Trask River Apartments, and the Tillamook County Library (main branch). *See flyer for lunch times. Lunches are free to kids under the age of 18. Adults need not be present.


Funding for the lunch program is reimbursed by the ODE, but all legwork is done locally.


“We have to fill out all kinds of paperwork,” Wenzel said. “ODE does checks, approvals, and they send people out to inspect facilities.”


Planning, prepping, and delivering 100-plus lunches is reliant on those willing to donate their time.

“We definitely need volunteers all the time. We don't need money. ODE provides all that,” Wenzel said. “We need people to make sandwiches, people to do small bagging, and people to drive.”


Wenzel detailed that volunteering doesn’t have to be a huge commitment. Help can be lent for a day or all summer, with shifts lasting as short as an hour.

Cristi Shirk has been a Grub Club volunteer for the past 12 years. She learned about the program after attending an informational meeting hosted by the Tillamook Rotary Club. 


“I worked in the schools for 30 years and I just knew there was a need,” Shirk said. “So, I just keep coming.”


Based on the State of Oregon’s October 2022 School Nutrition Program report, five Tillamook School District schools have over 50 percent of the student’s population that are eligible for free or reduced lunch. Wilson River School and Liberty Elementary School are the highest with 94.5 and 67.74 percent of students eligible for meal programs.


At the start of 2024, Tillamook School District introduced the Community Eligibility Provision that made all enrolled students of Tillamook School District eligible to receive a breakfast and lunch (including one milk) at school at no charge. Free and reduced meal applications are no longer required.

Until school resumes and students have access to the Community Eligibility Provision program, Grub Club will bridge the gap. Lunches are served Monday through Friday, until August 30. No lunches will be served on July 4.


The Grub Club host organization is the Tillamook United Methodist Church.


To volunteer, reach out to Wenzel at


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