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Feeding Kids During COVID-19 Jan 26, 2021 | 9:13am

It’s hard to imagine it’s been nearly 3 months since schools were forced to close and people were told to stay at home. It’s certainly been a whirlwind presenting unique challenges for many individuals, families, businesses, and organizations in our community. We’ve had to take precautions like never before to protect ourselves and others. Masks have become a staple in our wardrobe and social distancing has kept us away from those we love. 

Children in our community have been especially vulnerable. While the schools are working hard to provide food to kids during the week, without them actually being in school buildings for breakfast and lunch every day, these meals are not as easily accessible as they previously were. Kids have also lost the stability in their day-to-day schedule of attending school, hanging out with friends, playing sports and just being a kid. 

Many businesses were forced to shut down. Parents who lost their jobs are having to stretch their budgets and find ways to pay their bills, to afford healthy food for their children, and to provide a stable environment for their kids to grow and be nourished.

With a mission to feed hungry children in our community, TABLE had to adapt quickly. We established new processes and procedures to go from delivering food to our kids at school and afterschool centers to delivering directly to children’s homes. We took on new health and social distancing precautions to ensure the safety of our volunteers, staff and the children we serve by wearing masks and gloves, social distancing, limiting individuals in our office, and sanitizing, sanitizing, and sanitizing (did we mention sanitizing?!). 

Through it all, we have been most amazed at the generosity of our community helping us rise to these challenges. As we begin to slowly open up and adjust to a new normal, we wanted to share the impact TABLE has made and say thank you to everyone who has helped us along the way!

What has our impact been?

TABLE is delivering weekly or bi-weekly bags to approximately 670 children directly to their doorsteps! With so many parents out of work or working on reduced hours, these bags of food are greatly depended on and have provided a sense of hope, not to mention many smiles and “thumbs up” from children and parents as they retrieve their bags from their front steps!

“The food we are getting is so helpful.  Both my husband and I work in the restaurant business and because of everything going on we both lost our jobs.  The food we are getting helps us during these difficult times. Thank you for all you do!” ~ mom of kids who receive food from TABLE

Shout out to our volunteers

We seriously could not have accomplished this without our volunteers. We’ve had a limited number of individuals each week helping us unpack, organize and shelve the thousands of pounds of food donations we’ve received; assemble more than 7,000 bags of food since schools closed; and deliver to approximately 415 households every week.

These volunteers were patient with changes we had to make to shifts and graciously jumped in to help however needed, with smiles and laughs along the way. Due to requirements in the age of volunteers allowed, we have missed our regular senior citizen volunteers though and look forward to the day they can all return!

“My first thought when schools were closed was what about the children who are dependent on free breakfast and lunch and supplemental food from TABLE? How will they get food? In the richest country in the world, there shouldn’t be hungry children. I’ve weighed, recorded and shelved food donations; I’ve wrapped fruit cups; and I’ve bagged non-perishable and fresh food to be delivered to children. It is so satisfying to see the result of your work and makes it easy to picture it going to a child who will open and explore it and have food to eat. TABLE sends good food that children will enjoy eating. I hope it feels like a happy surprise package every week.” ~ TABLE Volunteer

Local businesses jump into action

We have been humbled by the amazing support from our area’s businesses. When we were uncertain we’d be able to have enough food to feed our kids, chefs including Vimala Rajendran from Vimala’s Cherry Blossom, Jamil Kadoura from Med Deli, Teddy Diggs from Coronato Pizza and Greg John from Chapel Hill Country Club sprang to action. Some donated food while others helped by rebagging thousands of pounds of bulk orders of rice, beans and pasta!

We’ve also received monetary donations from our local businesses, some even becoming repeat donors and joining our TABLE Setter program, all at a time when many are being faced with their own uncertainties. 

We’ve all heard the saying, “it takes a village,” and at this time it has never been so true. It brings such comfort knowing we can rely on our neighbors in times like these and look forward to the day we can give back to them by patronizing their businesses again.

Speaking of donations…WOW!

We truly are speechless when it comes to the generosity we’ve received since schools closed down. TABLE has become a regular stop on Amazon’s daily route dropping off  boxes of non-perishables. One particularly big mail day included 50 boxes of nonperishables that donors purchased from our Amazon Wishlist! One-time donations hit record numbers. And, our monthly donor list of TABLE Setters keeps growing! 

Our community partners have also shown their generosity and support for our mission including discounts on fresh food from Farmer Foodshare, loaves of fresh baked bread from Weaver Street Market funded through their RoundUp program, and grants from foundations including the Waldron Charitable Fund and the United Way of the Greater Triangle’s Rapid Response Fund

Whether it is food or funds, every donation has gone to filling bags for the kids we serve with the nourishment they need and deserve.

To all of you, we say THANK YOU!

“It is my pleasure to help. I heard about TABLE in a Town of Chapel Hill email. I’ve been very concerned about feeding children and their families, especially through this pandemic. Thank you for taking the responsibility to help them.”  ~ New TABLE donor 

“Hawthorne & Wood has been looking for how best to help the food-insecure children of Chapel Hill and Carrboro. We realized that TABLE acts upon our good intentions with more effect than we ever could, and we are proud and excited to support them in their mission.” ~ Brandon Sharp, Chef-Owner, Hawthorne & Wood, recent TABLE Setter

Continuing our mission into the future

The months to come carry lots of uncertainty – we know that children will continue to need food assistance. With the processes we’ve established, with food donations and volunteer shifts, and ultimately with your support, we are confident we’ll continue making an impact on our community, together.