Parents are facing another pandemic curveball as their children gear up for the school year. Some opted to send their kids back to school in-person, and others opted for virtual learning at home. While both host very different challenges, one factor cannot be overlooked—access to free and reduced lunch.
As a way to ensure that children are receiving meals while completing virtual learning from home, Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger (TBNEH), a tri-county leader in hunger relief, research and program development, is expanding Meals On Wheels for Kids (MOW4Kids) into Clearwater.
The MOW4Kids program launched in March in response to COVID-19 school closures. It was designed to deliver meals to homes of children 18 years or younger who are not able to access meal distribution sites throughout the county, and/or have difficulty accessing open food pantries.
According to a release, beginning Wednesday, August 26, the program will begin delivering frozen prepared meals, fresh produce and shelf-stable food to children and families who have opted to attend school remotely in Clearwater.
The program currently serves St. Petersburg and Lealman in South Pinellas County, Wimauma in South Hillsborough County, Dade City in East Pasco County.
RCS Food Bank, a local nonprofit organization that addresses the needs of the hungry, homeless and victims of domestic violence in Pinellas County, will be the designated packing and distribution site for the program in this service area. After boxes of food are packaged by volunteers, they will be loaded onto Pinellas County School’s buses. Volunteers ride along and deliver to children and families residing in Clearwater.
“At the core of this Meals on Wheels program is nutritious food delivered to the homes of children and their families,” the press release says. “The program provides meals, shelf-stable groceries, including produce, as resources allow. Children may experience an increase in overall nutrition, food security, and feelings of social connectedness from volunteers stopping by.”
If you want to apply for the Meals on Wheels Kids program, visit networktoendhunger.org/applymow4kids and fill out an application, and Tampa Bay Network to End Hungry will follow up with a phone call to discuss eligibility.
Volunteer drivers are needed each week to help pack boxes of shelf-stable food on Tuesdays and to deliver on Wednesdays from RCS Food Bank in Clearwater. If you want more information about the Meals on Wheels program, or are itching to lend a hand, visit networktoendhugner.org/volunteer or call (813) 344-5837. Want to help but don’t have wheels? A donation of $20 provides a week of meals.
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