For the past few years, the New Jersey Healthy Kids Initiative (NJHKI) has partnered with Greater Brunswick Charter School (GBCS) in New Brunswick to provide nutrition education, culinary literacy, and physical activity programs and activities to its students. This has included biweekly field trips for kindergarten and seventh graders to attend the New Jersey Institute for Food, Nutrition, and Health’s (IFNH) Center for Nutrition, Exercise, and Metabolism on the Rutgers Cook campus for physical literacy activities as well as culinary literacy lessons at their school. When the GBCS family coordinator, Lilia Fabila-Guilot reached out to NJHKI’s program development administrator, Erin Comollo for support in delivering families meals, NJHKI happily accepted the task.
Under normal circumstances, GBCS has a small pantry that usually helps provide food for about 30-35 families each week. Because of the pandemic, the need has increased and now they have been serving between 90-100 families each Wednesday when the pantry is open. Some families have not been able to pick up their food, including school lunches, because either they have been isolating/quarantining themselves or they have a sick or disabled family member at home and cannot leave them unattended.
Gathering support from local residents, IFNH Nutrition Ambassadors, members of local New Brunswick gym CrossFit Stealth and NJHKI team members, Comollo worked with Fabila-Guilot to coordinate and execute meal deliveries for families receiving meals from the school on Mondays and Wednesdays through the end of the school year. On Mondays, volunteers delivered school lunches to families’ homes, and on Wednesdays they brought more food which included school lunches, food from the pantry, and food from the Blessings in a Backpack program.
The school and families expressed deep appreciation for the support in being able to continue to provide access to food for their families, and volunteers were grateful for an opportunity to be helpful during this time. The school plans to continue meal deliveries as long it remains closed, which remains an unknown. If you are interested in being involved, please contact Dr. Erin Comollo at firstname.lastname@example.org.