Meals on Wheels recently expanded its kids program to the SouthShore area and is looking for volunteers to help.

By Dominique Asher

Children in the SouthShore area have more access to food thanks to a new program from Meals on Wheels. Its Meals on Wheels for Kids program (MOW4Kids), which launched this past March, expanded into Wimauma recently to help feed the area’s hungry.

The MOW4Kids program began in response to COVID-19 school closures that left many residents 18 or under who could not access the meal disruption sites or open food pantries stuck. The program began by delivering meals to the homes in 12 Pinellas County zip codes, to those who rely on the national free and reduced breakfast and lunch program.

After receiving a charitable donation from the Valencia Lakes Sports Charity, MOW4Kids was able to expand into Wimauma, reaching more kids. The Wimauma area was chosen due to the high rate of food insecurity and kids who lack access to transportation to the meal distribution sites.

Each of the deliveries include five frozen meals freshly prepared by local business Delectables Fine Catering, a box of shelf-stable food and fresh produce. Volunteers go one step further, providing a safety/wellness check each time they deliver the meals.

Lauren Vance, manager for the Tampa Bay Network to End Hunger, expressed, “The program aims to provide nutrition and social connection to isolated children and families.”

TC Delivers, a Tampa mail services provider, and Beth-El Farmworker Ministry, a local nonprofit that provides assistance to Hispanic farmworkers and their families, work with the MOW4Kids to package and distribute the food. TC Delivers will transform into a packing site for the produce and shelf-stable goods, while Beth-El Farmworker Ministry will become a distribution center for volunteers to run by and pick up meals to distribute to the homes.

The program is always needing help and volunteers to contribute to the cause.

“Those in the community can get involved by signing up to volunteer to deliver a route, which takes about an hour, or by donating $40, which provides five frozen meals and a box of shelf-stable food and fresh produce,” said Vance.

To learn more about Meals on Wheels/MOW4Kids or sign up as a volunteer, go to www.networktoendhunger.org.