When Gov. Roy Cooper issued an executive order announcing all North Carolina schools will be closed for at least two weeks due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, school districts were left to find ways to feed students who rely heavily on school meals.
Many schools across the state have organized on-campus breakfast and lunch distributions to combat this need, however, students without transportation can’t benefit from these services.
The Rev. Clifford Matthews at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church brought this dilemma to the attention of his congregation, and from there, the community formed a partnership to provide for those living in areas known as food deserts.
“We are here for them and we care about the issues they are facing,” said Jarvis Miller, church administrator at St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church.
The community group consisting of St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, Hearts Beat as One Foundation and Your Custom Catering and Events started the Lunch Is On Us initiative to provide free student lunches weekdays at noon at three distribution sites: St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, Sacred Souls Community Church and the South Tryon Community United Methodist Church.
Nate Turner, executive chef and owner at Your Custom Catering and Events, said he hopes that this initiative will bring awareness about the food deserts in Charlotte.
“I hope that our community realizes that there is a food shortage in certain areas,” said Turner. “And through this, hopefully we are offering something that will at least give them one hot meal per day.”
Turner expressed how Matthews’ vision led to this unity during a time of crisis.
“Pastor Matthews over at St. Luke’s had a vision and talked about it on a livestream on Sunday, and the rest of us sort of picked up that vision and it ended up serving almost 600 people daily,” said Turner.
Volunteers from the Lunch Is On Us team will be delivering food to The Relatives Crisis Center and Time Out Youth.
In addition to serving students, Lunch Is On Us added an adult feeding site in Noda specifically for restaurant and bar service staff who were laid off or received reduced hours due to the spread of the coronavirus. Meals will be provided Monday through Saturday from 1:30 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at 519 E 36th St., Charlotte, NC 28205.
“Our hope is to be a place of hope, relief and compassion,” said Miller. “We are not just a Sunday church…and we show that by our outreach.”
To support the Lunch Is On Us initiative, you can make a financial contribution or donate items such as Styrofoam containers, gloves and basic items that will allow them to continue to prepare to-go style meals.
For more information about Lunch Is On Us and how to get involved, visit this link.
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