City, Coronavirus, News

City and residents make efforts to feed those in need during pandemic

Many children are left without a source of food after Massachusetts ordered the closure of all public schools, which Gov. Charlie Baker extended Wednesday to last until May 4.

A majority of children and teenagers in the Boston Public Schools system — 72 percent, according to the Mayor’s Office — rely on school meals for breakfast and lunch.

McKinley Middle School, a public school in Boston. The City of Boston is providing free breakfast and lunch to public school students, many of whom would otherwise go hungry, while schools remain closed due to the coronavirus. CONOR KELLEY/ DFP FILE

The City of Boston is acknowledging this issue by providing dozens of “grab and go” meal sites across the city to provide free breakfast and lunch to students at set time slots, which vary from site to site.

The program is the product of a partnership with community organizations such as Project Bread, YMCA of Greater Boston and Boston Centers for Youth and Families.

One of ProjectBread’s main programs is their FoodSource Hotline, which is a call system for Boston residents facing food insecurity to request information about meal resources in their community. The charity is also operating 1,108 meal sites for schoolchildren in Massachusetts as of Monday.

Meanwhile, the elderly and immunocompromised also put themselves at greater risk every time they leave their homes, which makes a trip to the grocery store a dangerous task.

With supermarkets quickly emptying after each restock, those most in need are facing difficulties obtaining necessary meals.

Siblings Tamara and Mark Tannoury launched Angels at your Door, a grocery delivery service for the elderly and immunocompromised, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

They currently serve Andover, North Andover and Tewksbury in the Greater Boston area. The siblings said they have been paying the delivery costs out-of-pocket, and recipients pay only for the cost of their groceries.

“We never really had intentions of actually charging them for delivery and all that,” Mark Tannoury said, “because we want this to kind of be a humanitarian kind of thing.”

Tamara Tannoury said the idea for Angels at your Door came as corporate delivery services are being overwhelmed with increased demand, causing some to suspend services.

“For elders that, one, can’t drive and just don’t feel safe or people even at risk, who have cancer and who have bad immune systems due to the chemo, it’s just not a good choice to risk literally their lives,” Tamara Tannoury said.

Tamara Tannoury said while she thinks it’s important to use the abundance of time at home as a restorative period, young and able people can do a lot to strike a balance between those who are more in need and those who can relax.

“In times like these, there are a lot of posts about like, ‘oh, use this time for self care,’” Tamara Tannoury said. “But it’s also important to realize that in times like these, we should think of the communities too and not just purely ourselves.”

Part of the City’s efforts to feed its needy has also manifested in the Boston Resiliency Fund, which fundraises and collects donations for those most affected by the coronavirus: children in need, the elderly and health care workers.

Mayor Martin Walsh said in a press release the City has seen “incredible” acts of generosity and kindness so far throughout the epidemic.

“In the face of big challenges, our city shows its true colors,” Walsh said. “I want to thank everyone who has already contributed, and look forward to seeing how we will all come together during this critical time of need to support one another.”

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