More than half of city students qualify for free and reduced meals under federal programming. Despite school closures due to COVID-19, Charlottesville City Schools has been supplying meals to students; however food will not be supplied during the school’s previously scheduled spring break, beginning April 6, 2020.
“Restaurant owners, people that work at restaurants in Charlottesville, that’s the lifeblood of this community,” Long said. “ So if there was a way that we can do both - you know, feed people who need food and inject some cash into these restaurants - I think that you’re able to get a lot done.”
The meals were distributed Monday, April 6, at five Charlottesville neighborhoods: Friendship Court, Westhaven, Hearthwood Apartments, South First Street, and Greenstone on 5th.
“We knew that this was a necessity food-security issue here in Charlottesville, and a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic brings it to light for a lot more people,” City Schoolyard Garden Outreach and Resource Program Director Aleen Carey said.
Each of the bags distributed contains two meals, along with breakfast and snacks for students. Volunteers will be handing out food again at all five locations at 11 a.m. Wednesday, April 8.
“If you live in Charlottesville you know it’s a community, it’s a family. So, like, let’s look out for each other,” Long sai,d
This program kicks off a larger initiative for the Chris Long Foundation called “Grub for Good.” The foundation will be working with various Charlottesville nonprofits to distribute meals to people across the city.
CITY SCHOOLYARD GARDEN AND THE CHRIS LONG FOUNDATION PARTNER TO PROVIDE MEALS TO CHARLOTTESVILLE STUDENTS OVER SPRING BREAK
The program will provide 4000 meals from locally-owned restaurants
Charlottesville, VA — Students from Charlottesville City Schools (CCS) will continue to receive free meals during the district’s previously scheduled Spring Break April 6 – 10, 2020, thanks to a partnership between City Schoolyard Garden and The Chris Long Foundation. The program will provide 4000 meals to Charlottesville youth living in neighborhoods with high enrollment in free and reduced meal programs.
“CCS has been running a robust program to distribute meals to students that rely on school food since March,” said City Schoolyard Garden Executive Director Jeanette Abi-Nader. “Spring Break will give the school district a well-deserved rest as the community moves into another six weeks of shelter in place. We are happy to pitch in and provide resources to partner with The Chris Long Foundation to ensure access to healthy meals for students while supporting local restaurants.”
The need to ensure students have access to food during the break prompted the partnership between The Chris Long Foundation and City Schoolyard Garden. Over 54% of Charlottesville City School students qualify for free and reduced federal meals. This need also created an opportunity to help locally-owned restaurants that are struggling to keep doors open during the COVID-19 shelter in place restrictions. Both organizations shared the same goal to utilize local restaurants to prepare meals, creating the dual benefit of providing revenue to local businesses, and providing healthy and safe meals to those who need them.
The program will distribute meals at five community distribution points on Monday, April 6 and Wednesday, April 8, from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. at the following locations:
- Westhaven Community Center, 803 Hardy Drive
- Friendship Court, 418 Garrett St.
- South First Street Community Center, South First Street and Hartmans Mill Road
- Hearthwood Apartments in front of the pool house, 2111 Michie Drive
- Greenstone on 5th in front of the community center, 746 Prospect Ave.
The meals will be sourced from Charlottesville restaurants Pearl Island Catering and Mochiko Cville. Both restaurants serve healthy food and have the capacity to support the number of meals needed. The Chris Long Foundation is funding the meals with the hopes of helping local restaurant staff and investing in local businesses.
“We know that our community is struggling right now,” said Chris Long, founder The Chris Long Foundation. “We wanted to find a way to provide relief for our neighbors and also support Charlottesville dining institutions that are being hard hit. We are thrilled to have our first project be with CSS and City Schoolyard Garden to address the immediate need to provide meals to students.”
During COVID-19 shelter in place restrictions, it is anticipated that families with low wage work and living in public and subsidized housing will be hit the hardest. The Spring Break distribution marks the beginning of The Chris Long Foundation’s Grub4Good program that will continue the model of sourcing needed meals from locally-owned restaurants.
Grub4Good will begin the week of April 12 and run for at least four weeks. The program will provide meals throughout the community by partnering with local nonprofits and city agencies. All meals will be prepared from local Charlottesville restaurants.
To kick-off Grub4Good The Chris Long Foundation is making a $50,000 pledge that is seeded by Chris and Megan Long. A donation the Long’s hope will be matched by the community to provide more meals and impact more restaurants.
“While Charlottesville is known for strong local food advocates, a closer look at demographic data and lived experiences show the food system does not serve everyone equally,” stressed Abi-Nader. “Hunger, food insecurity, and poverty are entrenched problems. For Charlottesville, 17.5% or 1 in 6 residents face food insecurity, a trend that outpaces Virginia’s average of 11.9%.”
“We are facing a time of unprecedented levels of disruption to our everyday lives,” added Long. “For many, that means that securing necessities, like food, is more of a challenge than ever. But from this obstacle, we see an opportunity to rally together and create solutions that provide relief for the Charlottesville community.”
To find out more about Grub4Good, visit chrislongfoudnation.org. To support the Spring Break food distribution effort, please visit //www.cityschoolyardgarden.org/get-involved/donate/