Volunteers packing boxes to deliver to Meals on Wheels recipients.

By Samantha Trezevant

Meals on Wheels has been providing a new service to Hillsborough, Pasco and Pinellas Counties for a little over a year now. This amazing program runs through the Tampa Network to End Hunger; Meals on Wheels for Kids (MOW4Kids) specializes in providing lunches to children who are learning remotely and run the risk of going hungry. The organization has served over half a million meals, and in order to continue doing so, volunteers are needed.

MOW4Kids is an innovative program that launched as a result of school closures due to the pandemic. The program seeks to serve any child and their families who may need assistance, particularly the ones that rely on the school to receive their breakfast and lunches through the National School Lunch program.

The idea came to be when the pandemic struck as the need for programs like this were vital to getting children fed. So many households could not access grab-and-go school distribution meal sites due to no access to a vehicle, unreliable transportation, not being available to get to a pickup site in time, a disability and more. This has led to 125 volunteers serving to help deliver meals to children that are not able to access meal distribution sites throughout the county and/or kids that have difficulty accessing food pantries.

“My kids love the different types of food MOW4Kids brings,” said Bianca, MOW4Kids head of household. “The amount of food provided is always enough to get us by for that week and every single item is put to use. I also love the fruits and vegetables I receive—they are always so fresh. You provide my kids the exact nutrients they need. I am relieved I don’t have to worry how my family will eat this week or next because I know MOW4Kids will be here and whatever they bring will be enough for my family.”

There are many ways to support Meals on Wheels. Volunteers are needed in order to serve the community. Background-checked volunteers drive their own vehicles to deliver shelf-stable boxes of food and cold meal packs to children and families. Delivery begins at 10 a.m. and routes take about 60 minutes to complete. You can sign up to volunteer at www.networktoendhunger.org/volunteer.

If you are unable to volunteer, you can still help support MOW4Kids. The Tampa Network to End Hunger is currently accepting donations at www.networktoendhunger.org. A donation of just $20 will provide a week of Meals on Wheels for Kids deliveries to children in need.

For additional information, please call the network at 344-5837. To receive free meals delivered to your home, visit https://networktoendhunger.org/mow4kidstampabay/ or call 344-5837.

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