Chester County Intermediate Unit Combats Food Insecurity During School Closures

Chester County Intermediate Unit Combats Food Insecurity During School ClosuresCCIU staff deliver meals to students across the county (photo taken prior to the April 19 mandatory requirement of masks being worn in essential businesses).

COATESVILLE, PA — Food insecurity has been a major area of concern and anxiety for families across the nation since the mandatory shutdown of schools several weeks ago.

To help combat those struggles, over 80 staff members from the Chester County Intermediate Unit’s (CCIU) Head Start and food services programs have been working out of the Gordon Early Literacy Center in Coatesville to make sure that students have access to food during the mandatory school closures.

Food insecurity during COVID-19 outbreak
Recipients of the food deliveries sent a ‘thank you’ photo to CCIU staff.

“When families are experiencing food insecurity, they are often faced with impossible trade-offs. In order to put food on the table, families typically sacrifice other basic needs,” said Terry Kenworthy, Head Start Supervisor of Health and Family Services.

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Since the closures began the week of March 16, 2020, an average of over 810 CCIU students enrolled in Head Start, the Child and Career Development Center and the Migrant Education Program have received five breakfasts and five lunches each week.

During the week of April 13, that number soared to over 1,045 students receiving a delivery. Additionally, families in need of diapers, wipes and infant formula receive weekly distributions to sustain the needs of the youngest family members.

Upon making a routine delivery, one family service worker found a note taped to the door that read, “I just wanted to give you a little thank you card to show my appreciation for everything you have done for our whole family. You didn’t blink an eye and simply offered any and every type of assistance possible to help deal with the craziness of our current daily life. You always go above the call of duty to make sure me and the kids have everything we need. You truly are amazing.”

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The breakfast and lunch items are provided by the CCIU’s Child and Adult Care Food Program, a grant from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that provides student meals through the free and reduced lunch program, while the non-perishables and self-care items are provided by the Market Club located at the Gordon Early Literacy Center.

The Market Club has graciously received donations from the Chester County Food Bank, the Mitzvah Circle, CCRES, the CCIU Education Association and many individuals throughout the county.

Community members and businesses that are interested in helping with this initiative are encouraged to shop the Amazon wish lists at www.cciu.org/marketclubwishlist.

There are four categorical wish lists for donors to shop that include items to prepare meals, necessary baby products and household essentials. Gift cards and monetary donations can be made out to Head Start and sent to the attention of Joyce Humphrey, 455 Boot Road, Downingtown, PA 19335 with the memo “The Market Club.”

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