Julie Zickos makes a trip to the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen in Rock Hill twice a week to drop off boxes of leftover breakfast and lunch items from Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools' Eats from Home program.
Families pick up boxes of food weekly from their child’s school or bus stop.
“Once I went through it, I realized there were a couple of items that kids wouldn’t eat, including raisins and some juice,” Zickos said. “I didn’t want to waste the food. I started reaching out to neighbors, because I was, like, ‘I can’t be the only one that has this surplus of food.’”
Zickos started to collect items from 30 other families.
For the past three weeks, her freezer was continuously packed with things like milk and frozen burritos.
Executive director at the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen, Jan Stephenson, said the CMS meals are a big help, especially since they’re feeding nearly 200 people a day. She said that’s double of what they were doing before the pandemic.
“We let them shop and take what they need,” she said. “That kind of fills in the gap at night when their lunch has worn off, and they may not everything need to prepare a dinner,” Stephenson said.
Zickos hopes this is an effort that will catch on in other communities across Mecklenburg County.
“I think that if we were able to organize this on small scale, that if other neighborhoods or schools are seeing this surplus that we are seeing, they can also be collecting and benefiting other food pantries and soup kitchens in the area,” Zickos said.
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In addition to the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen, Channel 9 spoke with Loaves and Fishes in Charlotte. Officials at the nonprofit said they also will take the surplus of food from CMS food boxes.
They said parents can drop off items at their warehouse in Charlotte, and they will distribute to mobile food pantries or other community partners.
Officials at the Dorothy Day Soup Kitchen said they can take the items, since CMS pre-packed them in a commercial kitchen.
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