The South Orange & Maplewood School District (SOMSD), Parenting Center, Family Food Support Initiative which began on March 18, has served more than 500 families, raised $33,664, and has received overwhelming community engagement to support families during the SOMSD school closure and Covid-19 pandemic.
Since its inception, the Center has received an overwhelming response from the community. Karen Weiland, Director, Parenting Center, shared, “It’s really amazing since we began this initiative, we have had close to 1,000 community members donate food or funds to our family support food program.”
The Center initially partnered with Morrow Memorial Church and Our Lady of Sorrows Food Pantry to lead a food collection drive. Since then, the drive has expanded and is now collecting grocery donations two days every two weeks at the OLS Food Pantry. In addition, they have also partnered with Rent Party and South Orange & Maplewood elected officials to raise money for gift cards to provide to families. Donna Coallier’s COVID-19: SOMA Family Support Fund GoFundme campaign was instrumental in beginning the fundraising process.
The Center coordinated food deliveries with SOMA Justice and Cougar Cares who have been supporting food insecure CHS families. More recently, the Center has also partnered with local restaurants, among them Coda, Maplewood, who is donating food to multiple families every Monday, Jackie and Son and Orange Lawn, both in South Orange are also donating food for families. The Parkwood Diner, Liv Breads, and the Rotary Club are now joining the effort. The Community Coalition on Race has printed Covid resource guides to include in the deliveries and MOD Studio of Maplewood is coordinating contributions of child and adult masks for families receiving food support deliveries.
Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Ronald G. Taylor states, “the unified effort of our partners and the Parent Center is awe-inspiring. As we continue to respond to this unprecedented crisis, it is uplifting to know that our community has banned together to support those who need help.” Taylor continued, “we often reference Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs Theory as a tenet in our work with and for our students, Karen Weiland, the Parent Center and our partners are a true embodiment of this ideal that our children cannot reach their fullest academic potential without their most basic physiological needs being met.”
To date, volunteer deliverers have distributed food or gift cards to nearly 500 hundred families. To reduce transport frequency, the Center delivers 2 – 4 weeks’ worth of food with each delivery to families. Also, through money donated by SOMA community members, the Center has raised $33,664 to purchase food and gift cards for families.
If any family needs additional food support during the school closure, please contact the Parenting Center, Karen Weiland at: 973-762-5600, X1850, or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Provide your name and phone number, and someone will contact you with details to arrange for food delivery. More information can be found: bit.ly/somsdmeals