Nonprofits help feed HCS families during suspended lunch program

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WBTW) – Two local nonprofits are working to feed Horry County School families after the district’s lunch program was suspended.

On Wednesday the district announced the two week suspension after several HCS employees tested positive for COVID-19.

Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) is an organization made up of several local nonprofits inclduing United Way Horry County, Impact Ministries, New Directions, and The Salvation Army.

The website is ran by Impact Ministries who created a food map showing meal sites for families in need.

“We want to make sure everyone is aware of what they’re doing. And to make sure we are not duplicating efforts and make sure that we’re spreading those resources all throughout the county,” said Blakely Roof, President and CEO of United Way Horry County.

On Thursday businesses like Team Eats provided free lunches for children at The Cooper House in Socastee.

Roof encourages restaurants, churches, hotels, and other businesses offering free services to people in the county to register their group on VOAD’s website.

“What we really need is anyone in the community that’s doing that to enter that information, because it’s only as good as the information on there,” said Roof.

Sign-up forms can be filled out online for restaurants and hotels, as well as churches and other nonprofits.

For those without transportation, Help4Kids Horry County will deliver meals for free.

“We find there are school age children, but then there are younger children there too and then adults that aren’t working. They’ve been laid off and don’t have their unemployment money,” said Bridget Brancato, Events Coordinator.

On Wednesday News13 interviewed Help4Kids on their desperate need of food donations.

The nonprofit went from feeding a few hundred to more than one thousand people overnight.

On Thursday the group said several community members donated entire stimulus paychecks to the cause.

“They’re really understanding what a stimulus is. The stimulus is not to put in your savings account. It’s to stimulate the economy to keep people working that are working and help these people so that they can stay nourished and fed. When the community opens up again that they’ll be able to go back to work and feel good about themselves. That they took care of themselves and their children,” said Brancato.

HCS responded to the community’s efforts in feeding their students for the next two weeks:

“HCS had to make the difficult decision to suspend the operation of all 13 grab-and-go meal sites and all bus meal pick-up locations for the next two weeks due to several of our employees who have been impacted by the coronavirus and for the safety of our staff and the community. Words cannot express adequately our gratitude to all of our HCS employees who have served our students as a part of the district’s meal program since March 16th.  To date, their efforts and dedication have enabled us to serve 166,072 meals to HCS students.

We appreciate our community partners, faith-based organizations, and non-profit groups who continue to step up and assist our community during times of need. Thank you for helping us care for our community and provide much-needed nutrition and meals for those who need assistance.  HCS will assess our meal program following the two-week suspension of service. Parents are asked to monitor the district’s website and social media concerning notifications of when, or if, meal service can resume during this public health emergency.”

Lisa Bourcier, HCS Director of Strategic Communications & Community Engagement

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