GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — With schools closed because of the coronavirus pandemic, non-profits and other organizations are stepping up to make sure local kids are still fed. Friday, Mitten Brewing Company passed out free pizza outside Harrison Park Elementary in Grand Rapids. The school also provided other items.
"A lot of kids in our neighborhood here don't eat if they're not at school. So we want to make sure that they don't go hungry this whole weekend," Dana Mate Dones, Mitten Foundation's board president said.
She said, "As a local business, we're right in our neighborhood. We see our neighbors everyday, and we want to be there for them as much as they are for us, supporting and making sure that they're listening (and) stepping up when they need the help."
Across town, Kids' Food Basket, which provides free meals for kids, says it originally created a plan to reduce meals and volunteers because of coronavirus. But the non-profit hadn't take into account schools closing. That is, until things changed Thursday night with the governor's declaration to close schools through April 5th.
Founding CEO Bridget Clark Whitney said, "We are mobilizing our plan to be able to do emergency food distribution at multiple locations across Kent County, Muskegon, Holland, and Allegan."
She says there are over 75,000 children that receive free or reduced school lunch everyday. That's 75,000 kids that rely on school meals which they won't have access to for the next three weeks.
"A virus can't and won't stop hunger. Hunger still exists within our communities and many of our kids, especially our kids who are struggling with the barriers of poverty, will struggle even more not having the safety net of school," Clark Whitney said.
Kids' Food Basket needs volunteers more than ever and say they will be vigilant in cleaning and disinfecting their facilities where those volunteers work. If you want to help out you can head to kidsfoodbasket.org