Holiday help: Families in need to receive Thanksgiving meals

MILFORD — “One in five children in Delaware go to bed hungry,” Harry K Foundation Executive Director Laura Glascoe said while watching volunteers load boxes filled with an all-but-cooked Thanksgiving feast into the vehicles of local school officials.

The foundation, started by Harry Keswani who owns Atlantic Jewelry in Rehoboth Beach, partners with Perdue Farms, the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation and the Food Bank of Delaware to provide holiday meal boxes several times a year to be given to pre-determined families in need in schools sponsored by the Harry K Foundation.

Although these schools, 44 of them from around the state, each have their own food pantry to help service those same families throughout the year, holidays can sometimes be harder when families cannot put a full meal on the table to enjoy, Ms. Glascoe added.

“We hope that it really makes a difference at the holiday time when there can be so much sadness and hunger,” Ms. Glascoe said.
Smyrna School District Child Nutrition Supervisor Roger Holt said the impact adds up for those students and their families. In fact, 269 Thanksgiving boxes were donated through the program across the state.

“One of the things we’ve been working on in Smryna was trying to find a way to supplement the food for the families in need in our community.
“We have families who receive assistance with SNAP or TANF, families that receive free and reduced lunch, but we have some families that are outliers that may not be receiving those services for whatever reason that might be, but they are still reaching out in need.

“So, we’re trying to find out a way to fill that need in the school district. So, the Harry K Foundation providing the boxes to the Food Bank of Delaware to be able to do that ended up being a great stop gap, a way to fill that need in the community,” Mr. Holt said.
The Thanksgiving boxes included holiday staples like macaroni and cheese, stuffing and cranberry sauce to name a few items.

Loading up the dinners.

The chicken roasters, all 269 of them, were donated by Perdue. Several employees also donated their time Tuesday morning to help load vehicles with the roasters and boxes.
“Our holiday giving program is in every corner that we touch in this country and our communities and we award roasters to a number of organizations throughout the footprint of the company,” Executive Director Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation Kim Nechay said.

“We have our foundation that gives funds and gets our volunteers involved, as well. And that’s in every location that we have.
“So we’re really blessed to be able to share a little bit of what we do and, of course, our people and who we are because our volunteers are second-to-none.

“They love getting out in the community and doing things like loading vehicles or mentoring kids, or whatever it is, but especially in the holiday season.”
At the heart of the Franklin P. and Arthur W. Perdue Foundation are grassroots efforts, she emphasized. Events and organizations supported by the foundation are oftentimes suggested by the employees themselves who want to reach out and make a difference in their own communities.

“These are things that our employees want to participate in to make life better for someone else. It’s really a neat thing to watch,” she added.
School officials who visited the Food Bank of Delaware’s Milford branch to collect their Thanksgiving boxes Tuesday morning all thanked the volunteers for their dedication and concern for the students in their care.

“This will go so far,” Pastor BK Mullen of Wesley College said to Mr. Keswani during the event.
Others told volunteers how happy the boxes of food will make their students who can now help provide a meal for the holiday.

Reach staff writer Jennifer Antonik at jantonik@newszap.com

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