Coastal Georgia food banks expanding focus on feeding kids

Coastal Georgia food banks expanding focus on feeding kids

SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - Children who rely on school meal programs soon won’t have that option. When schools close for the summer, so will the bus stop meal delivery program that’s kept many kids fed through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"A lot of the parents have lost their jobs, so that's a really rough time for them," said Mary Jane Crouch, chief executive of America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia. "The school system has done a phenomenal job at doing the bus stop meals and getting the meals out to the children, but that's going to stop."

As the demand for food is expected to surge, America's Second Harvest is asking for cash donations so it can expand its food programs to feed the kids and their families.

Already, there is a partnership in place between the food bank and YMCA of Coastal Georgia. The Grab-and-Go meal program began during the pandemic and provides a hot lunch every weekday from 11 a.m. until 1p.m. at every Y location in Coastal Georgia

"It's provided meals for over 16,000 children and families in this area," said Mark Simons, district Vice President with YMCA of Coastal Georgia.

The need is there, so much so that each YMCA property now has a stocked pantry on site for those in need.

The grab-and-go meal program is part of the 136,000 meals Second Harvest has served since the beginning of the pandemic through the end of April. But the food bank has encountered its own challenges during the pandemic. It cannot accept food donations from the public because it does not have the manpower to sanitize individual donations.

"We are buying our food now because the food supply chain has really been crippled by what's been going on," Crouch said. "Our donations of food are down 70 something percent. So, we are out there buying food. We've spent over a million dollars purchasing food since March 23rd."

Second Harvest needs cash donations in order to meet the expected surge in the coming days.

A generous donor has pledged a match donation challenge of $150,000. It works like this: Second Harvest will have to raise the same amount during the month of May for the match to happen, which would then net $300,000 in donations to help feed children and their families. As of today, the Second Harvest food bank has raised $75,000 toward its goal, which puts it halfway there.

You can donate here: https://www.helpendhunger.org/

WTOC has a promotional partnership with America's Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia through the month of May. It includes asking the public for donations to the food bank, and a series of reports each Friday that shows how the nonprofit is working to feed the kids and families in the area during the pandemic.

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