Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Moving into Summer; Meals on Wheels is Feeding Kids in Need

(Meals on Wheels)

WILLIAMSBURG — Summer is almost here, and that means most area children are ready to enjoy their break from school, but, what happens when school is the only place they can receive a consistent, nutritional meal?

Delivering and preparing hot, nutritious meals daily to vulnerable adults and families in the Williamsburg area is at the organization’s core. In addition to providing meals to the adult and elderly community in need, Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels will begin serving approximately 300 local children living in motels and section 8 housing with a bag lunch on Monday, June 19.

“While the elderly are the main focus of the organization, the summer is when children need us the most,” said Cathie Upton, Executive Director and CEO for Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels, “We try and target the areas where the children are not able to leave those neighborhoods or motels to go get a free lunch at their local school. These are kids that will not have the opportunity to leave their environment so, we meet them where they are at.”

While focusing on the immediate need, the organization has a goal to raise funds in order to continue offering the bag lunch service when this same group is on a school break so that they have some consistent nutrition, Upton said.

“The more we meet these children where they are at, as they grow, the more opportunities they have to make healthier choices, and maybe by us just showing up it will make enough of a difference that they will then give back to the community and reach their dreams,” Upton stated.

Volunteers fill lunch bags at Meals on Wheels. (Meals on Wheels)

Upton shared that the summer program is successful in part due to the work of the local Lion’s Club, “The Lion’s Club delivers all the children’s meals and they have formed really special partnerships with Williamsburg James City County Library and William & Mary School of Education to also provide books for all the children throughout the summer. This gives them an opportunity to read or maybe color … it is a little extra to keep their minds busy and focused.”

While Meals on Wheels is currently focused on providing one meal a day, Upton said many of these families do not have access to a cooking facility and it can be difficult to provide good nutrition. The group wants to add a snack box option, including items such as milk or fresh fruit.

“Our organization is trying to make hunger matter in our community. We can’t turn our back on hunger anymore,” Upton continued, “The one thing COVID did was push hunger to the forefront and it is so important that we not turn our back on the issue now. It’s here. We see it. We know it. We are talking about it. But, it is not time for us to stop doing something about it.”

Meals on Wheels, as a nonprofit organization, relies on the support of the community. The group consistently has a need for volunteers and monetary support.

“In general, if we all work together, we can make this so much better,” said Upton, “By coming together, we will make a difference in the lives of individuals who close their door every night and they are hungry.”

Visit Williamsburg Area Meals on Wheels to learn more about the organization and how you can assist. Learn more about James City Lions Club and its efforts here.

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