This last week has been jarring, to say the least. While everyone is discussing quarantine and social distancing, our Read to Lead students and their families have different anxieties accompanying this change of routine. “What about school? What about my friends? What about food? What are we going to do?” are a few questions that I am sure has passed through the minds of our kids, many of whom live in food-insecure households. Since our students are no longer in school, they aren’t receiving meals that they typically would during school hours.
The Director of Education at the Bethlehem Center, Rachel DeVore, deeply understands this reality. That is why when the Hamilton County School District announced that all schools would be closed until late March (later changed to April 13th), she sprung into action. She contacted all of her Read to Lead staff expressing how we need a plan to feed our kids. After calling, texting, and posting on Facebook for food donations, we were able to get the financial and donation support needed to kickstart our Beth snack pack program.
Each snack pack contains a sandwich, vegetables, fruit, and granola bars/crackers. We deliver these daily to students. We also provide transportation for students to access food provided by the Hamilton County School System. On Wednesdays, we provide hot meals for Read to Lead families. As of 3/23/2020 we have distributed 422 meals to families and 213 prepared meals (breakfast, lunch, and snack) to our students. We are also making phone calls to ensure families have certain resources needed in their households. In addition, we are using Zoom web-based video calls to check on our students and to read them stories.
For our kids, consistency is everything. We aren’t sure when everything will be back to normal, but we do know that COVID-19 does not and will not stand in the way of caring for our kids and serving our Beth families.
If you would like to support our relief efforts, please visit our donation page on our website, select a donation amount, and choose “ COVID-19 Relief Efforts” as the designated gift. We appreciate any help you can give to our students and their families at this time!
Grace earned her Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. She is currently working towards graduating with her Master’s from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville in May 2020.