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Delaware school serves 1.3m free meals to hungry kids

27th Nov 2020

Nadine Osman

A small Muslim primary school in Delaware, US, has been hailed as “stunning” by its Senator for serving 1.3 million free meals to needy local children since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak in March.

Tarbiyah School in Newark offers daily food to anyone under the age of 18 who lives nearby. The school’s Director, Dr Amna Latif, recruited a team of local volunteers, who were able to highlight other areas close to the school with a high concentration of children living in poverty.

Latif was able to start serving meals from the school’s small cafeteria just two days after Delaware Governor John Carney ordered schools to close. She initially aimed to offer an impressive 1,800 meals a day.

Delaware Senator Bryan Townsend said, “For it to happen every single day is what makes it so inspirational and stunning. “All this time, while schools were sorting out different frameworks, for this group to come together and build rapport in the community and deliver food, it’s beautiful.”

Speaking to Delaware Online Latif said, “We were scared. Are we even going to be able to give those out? Will there be leftovers? When we started, we gave out everything, and there was a need for more.

The school was soon serving up to 7,000 meals a day, from its premises as well as 33 other distribution sites across northern Delaware. Tarbiyah and its staff target children living in motels, homeless shelters and impoverished areas.

Latif’s daily feeding programme begins in the morning, with deliveries of milk and hot meals prepared by a local restaurant called Indian Sizzler. Volunteers then pack meals for distribution, before turning their attention to associated paperwork that needs completion.

Afternoons are spent packing non-perishable food that gets delivered to children for breakfast the next day.

More than one in 10 people in Delaware struggles to afford food, with one in five kids regularly going hungry. The Covid-19 Pandemic is estimated to have increased the number of people relying on food banks from 121,000 to over 170,000.

Latif fears that her extensive food distribution effort has not been enough to feed every child, saying, “I still feel we’re not reaching out to everybody. We still have a lot of children that are not being served.

Tarbiyah’s meals are paid for by the US Department of Agriculture, which allowed schools to shift to their summer meal programmes aimed at feeding needy children as soon as closure orders came into place. The school has since scaled back its food distribution efforts to 14 sites as children return to school.

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