• 77°

Food for Thought: Maintaining outreach during time of social distancing

Despite schools being closed and social distancing measures in place due to COVID-19, an Outer Banks community outreach program for students has continued to provide services. With school closed through the end of the term and local unemployment numbers rising, Food for Thought board members voted to modify their packing and delivery methods to continue serving at-risk students.

“The board thought long and hard about how we could continue serving the community without putting our own volunteers at risk,” says Bobbie Murray, president of Outer Banks Food for Thought.

She adds, “But our kids are the ones who suffer most when schools are closed. With so many parents out of work now, we are providing for about 550 instead of our usual 350 students.”

outreach

Margaret Lawler photo, courtesy Food for Thought

Typically, each Thursday would see about 30 volunteers standing shoulder-to-shoulder in assembly line fashion to pack bags of non-perishable groceries to be distributed in each school.

Linda White, Food for Thought board member, describes the usual packing process, “We used to blow it out in 45 minutes. Now, it takes three days. We spend about five hours because we pack in small teams.”

White says the work would not be possible without dedicated volunteers. “Not only are our volunteers putting themselves on the front line and doing more with fewer people, but we’ve added more kids to feed.”

With an extra 200 bags to pack each week, those in charge of inventory are challenged to stock shelves with staples such as milk, juice or cereal. Substitutions may get made with brands or container sizes, but so far, Food for Thought is maintaining the program’s calorie guidelines with consistent bag contents.

When the small packing teams are non-family members, everyone is gloved, masked and six or more feet apart.

“But it’s worth it,” says Murray. “We have had to change our packing methods to abide by the social distancing and safe health practices. For that reason, we are not looking for new recruits. If anyone reading this wants to help, monetary donations would be best.”

The process for school children to receive Food for Thought donations has been simplified to match the imminent needs of area families. On Thursdays, any student in need may also request a Food for Thought weekend bag at the Dare County school system’s meal distribution sites. The county continues to distribute its full meal service on from 11:30 a.m. -1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays at Cape Hatteras Elementary School, Manteo Elementary School and First Flight Elementary School.

outreach

Bobbie Murray, president of the Outer Banks Food for Thought.
Jeanne Brook photo, courtesy Food for Thought

“They do not have to be signed up for Food for Thought. On Thursdays, we give bags to anyone who needs help; we don’t want anyone to go hungry while they are trying to learn,” says Murray.

Food for Thought is an all-volunteer, non-profit organization that provides healthy non-perishable breakfasts and lunches in Dare County during school year weekends. Now in its 13th year, Outer Banks Food for Thought uses donated funds to support its mission with minimal administrative costs. It estimates that sending students home with non-perishables for the weekend costs $275 per student per year. For more information or to donate, visit foodforthoughtobx.com or mail to Food for Thought, Inc., PO Box 1167, Kitty Hawk, NC 27949.

READ ABOUT MORE COMMUNITY NEWS HERE.

RECENT HEADLINES:

Red Cross blood drives set for May

Hope4Healers Helpline operating 24/7

Lifestyles

New bicycle exhibit opens at Roanoke Island Festival Park

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to five years in prison, three years of supervised release for firearm charge

Crime

Two men dead after interstate shooting in North Carolina

Lifestyles

Hundreds gather to witness release of two sea turtles at Coquina Beach

News

Major North Carolina hospital systems to require staff to get COVID-19 vaccine

News

Firefighters rescue multiple children from North Carolina house fire

Lifestyles

Outer Banks Community Foundation grant deadline nears

Crime

Cooper announces reward for information on Guilford County murder

Lifestyles

Fascinating fasciation: Roanoke Island garden experiences rare phenomenon

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to over 17 years in prison for soliciting minors for photos

News

Opioid settlement: North Carolina’s share could be $750M

News

Cooper moves to end North Carolina’s statewide mask mandate

Crime

Uber driver charged with kidnapping, sexually assaulting customer in North Carolina

News

Convenience store stop for gas, hot dog and scratch-off tickets yields $200,000 prize for North Carolina man

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to over 17 years in prison for stabbing detention center guard

News

Kitty Hawk trail connector a team effort

News

Former North Carolina Rep. Melanie Goodwin remembered as a trailblazer

Crime

North Carolina man sentenced to 10 years in prison for ammunition charge

Business

COA receives donation from Paul Mann Custom Boats, Inc.

Business

Willie Mae Overton celebrated for 60 years with Elizabeth City hospital

Lifestyles

Dare County holding back to school COVID-19 vaccine clinics

Lifestyles

Christmas in July event coming to Kill Devil Hills

News

Dare County update on COVID-19

Crime

NC court rules magistrate can be sued for damages over misdirected commitment paperwork