Later this month, Henderson County Public Schools (HCPS) and the Henderson County Education Foundation (HCEF) will launch “Comfort Food,” a grassroots initiative funded by
donors Brian and Gina Grossman to feed local children facing food insecurity during the winter break.
Students will be out of school from Dec. 23, 2019 to January 3, 2020, meaning children who depend on free and reduced-meals through the district’s school lunch program may face difficulty securing meals over winter break. Thanks to the Grossmans’ generous $20,000 donation to HCEF, the HCPS Child Nutrition Department plans to serve more than 3,500 meals over a period of seven days through its Meals on the Bus mobile feeding site and at the Boys & Girls Club of Henderson County.
“Recently, our family was watching a movie and our son asked why a child in the movie had to steal bread in order to eat,” said Gina Grossman. “It made us think about the needs in our own backyard, and we decided we needed to support and expand the resources that exist in our community to combat childhood hunger.”
The HCPS Child Nutrition Department annually serves thousands of meals at public feeding sites through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program, including the mobile Meals On the Bus site. Established in 2017, Meals On the Bus has increased summertime access to food for children and families who lack reliable, safe transportation to the stationary open feeding sites in the community.
Through the “Comfort Food” initiative, the Meals On the Bus will stop at the same six neighborhoods as in the summer – King Creek, Dodd Meadows, Shorty Collins, Leisure Lane, Sugarloaf Apartments, and Alpine Woods – on Dec. 23, 26, 27, 30, 31, and Jan. 2, 3, offering meals at no cost to children ages 2-18. On these same days, the “Comfort Food” initiative will also provide meals to children enrolled in the Boys & Girls Club – who would normally be expected to bring their own lunches for the day. Additionally, special holiday meals will be provided to the Boys & Girls Club members to share with their families on Dec. 24, 25, and Jan. 1.
Before school lets out Dec. 20, flyers with the Meals On the Bus winter schedule will be sent home with students, and the Boys & Girls Club will share similar flyers with its club members. HCPS will also be placing “Meals On the Bus stops here!” yard signs at each of the six bus sites to remind families of stops scheduled for their neighborhoods.
“No child should have to worry about where his or her next meal will come from, over the holidays or any time,” said Brian Grossman. “Our hope is that other individuals in Henderson County and beyond will lend their support to the ‘Comfort Food’ initiative, and in partnership with the schools and the Education Foundation, we can continue bringing comfort to families in need.”
Individuals interested in supporting the “Comfort Food” initiative can contact HCEF Executive Director Summer Stipe at firstname.lastname@example.org or HCPS Director of Student Services Matt Gruebmeyer at email@example.com.
For the full Meals On the Bus winter schedule, visit www.hcpsnc.org/wintermeals.