“Meals on Wheels for Kids.” Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger Expands an Innovative Program Nationally

April 29, 2021

Jonique Lyles | Hunger Free Communities Associate, AmeriCorps VISTA | Alliance to End Hunger

In March 2020, Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger (TBNEH) founded the Meals on Wheels for Kids (MOW4Kids) home-delivered meal program. The Program works by using volunteers to deliver school meals to eligible children in a similar fashion to the national Meals on Wheels program. With the delivery program, meals are either catered or come from partnership with schools. TBNEH has delivered over half a million meals to children in Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas counties in Florida.

MOW4Kids was initially created to ensure that every child receives healthy meals, fresh produce, and shelf-stable food each week. To ensure that no child goes hungry during the pandemic, the program delivers meals to students that are out of session, virtual or simply cannot reach distribution sites.

Organizing with network members to successfully launch the program, MOW4Kids has worked diligently to provide school meals to disadvantaged children. Caitlyn Peacock, Executive Director states, “Millions of kids go hungry in the U.S. without school lunches when schools are closed every summer. When COVID struck and schools shut down, the problem became even greater.”

Ms. Peacock goes on to mention, “MOW4Kids is an essential community program. We are excited to bring MOW4Kids to other communities across the country.” With such hope, this year TBNEH is launching a MOW4Kids national expansion program. This exciting expansion program hopes to support others in creating their own delivery programs to press forward with innovation, collaboration and partnerships.

The expansion effort offers the opportunity for other organizations interested to develop a community program to deliver nutritious meals to children, whether homebound or transportation-disadvantaged. Ms. Peacock mentions, “The national expansion of this program is vital at this stage because the need is not going away. Kids are going hungry at home by not going to school. These children need our help now and we will do everything we can to make sure they have the nutritious meals they need.”

The National expansion of the program is looking to provide support to at least five partners for 2021. Since March 2020, the program has delivered almost 750,000 meals and the first national affiliate is now in Atlanta, Ga. Currently applications are accepted on a rolling basis allowing approved applicants to receive financial aid and technical assistance to develop a home-delivered meal program. In order to apply you can visit the online application and the request for proposal. These forms and additional information can also be found on the MOW4Kids website.

If you have any questions, please contact Lauren Vance, Director of Programs and Communications, at lauren.vance@networktoendhunger.org.