DPS Foundation to deliver 6,000 meals every week to families during school closures

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Magan Gonzales-Smith April 2, 2020 Email: Phone: (919) 348-9139

The Durham Public Schools Foundation (DPS Foundation) is announcing an initiative to deliver prepared meals, produce, canned goods, books, and other supplies to 1,500 DPS families on a weekly basis for at least the next two months. This effort is made possible by support from Biogen Foundation, Pacific Western Bank, MC Taylor and Hiss Golden Messenger, Merge Records , Mayor Steve Schewel and his wife Lao Rubert, and 1,085 community members who have made donations over the past two weeks.

“We believe that no student should go hungry or fall behind because of COVID-19 school closures,” said Magan Gonzales-Smith, DPS Foundation Executive Director. “With help from our partners and the Durham community we can provide much-needed support to families facing food insecurity in this difficult and unprecedented time. Our effort to provide weekend meals complements the weekday meals that DPS is providing.”

Two weeks ago, DPS Foundation put out a call for volunteer drivers and over 840 people signed-up. The DPS Foundation piloted the meal relief program over the past two weeks, mobilizing volunteer drivers to deliver 4,000 meals each week to the doorstep of DPS families. About 100 volunteers will deliver meals each weekend going forward. This is a complex, collaborative effort, especially given social distancing guidelines issued by local, state, and federal authorities.

Volunteer drivers make contactless deliveries, dropping off the meals at the doorstep of families facing food insecurity. At meal pick-up sites DPS Foundation team members provide drivers with gloves and safety instructions, sanitize drivers’ cars, load meals into the back of cars, and provide driving routes— maintaining six feet of distance wherever possible.

One of the big challenges DPSF identified early on was creating a digital sign-up form for families, which would provide clean data and accurate addresses. Web developers at Code the Dream donated time to create a bilingual form that has address validation and automatically formats cell numbers.

With 8,000 meals successfully delivered over the past two weekends, DPS Foundation is ramping up their efforts. In partnership with Student U they will be using the W.G. Pearson Center cafeteria to serve as a collection point for canned goods and produce from local farmers

in partnership with Kid Bright USA and Interfaith Food Shuttle. Book Harvest is providing grade-level appropriate books.

Prepared meals will continue alongside delivery of food and supplies, in partnership with local restaurants and caterers who are experiencing a slowdown in business due to COVID-19. Meals cost $3.75 per person, a price point that allows the food providers to cover labor and food costs but is still low enough to extend the project reach as broadly as possible. Catering partners Southern Harvest and Beyu Caffe both developed their own fundraising platform to further off-set the cost of meals.

DPS Foundation plans to continue raising funds. With more support, they will be able to expand their reach to include more than 1,500 families. “During this time, it is more important than ever that we come together to support our communities. We are glad to be able to work with the DPS Foundation and grant funds to such a vitally important effort happening in Durham,” said Juan Torres, Chief Quality Officer at Biogen Inc. and Biogen Foundation board member based in North Carolina.
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About DPS Foundation: DPS Foundation launched in September 2018 as a community-led effort to support and help transform Durham’s public schools. DPS Foundation (DPSF) is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit that unites our DPS school communities, public- and private-sector resources and community leaders around strategies to strengthen our Durham Public Schools for all students. We are led by community and business leaders and DPS students, educators, alums, and parents who share a deeply held belief that we can fulfill the promise of public education in Durham. We do more than provide funds – we’re innovators, working with partners across our community to develop, pilot and scale strategies that will accelerate the transformation of public education.

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