Game Changer: Rotary Club Downtown Boca Raton launches C.H.O.W. program to feed kids over weekend

722

Staff report

To help keep kids and their families full over the weekend, the Rotary Club Downtown Boca launched a C.H.O.W., Children’s Health On the Weekend.

The program sends weekend meals home with children who are served by the Florence Fuller Child Development Centers.

When the program started, it served 35 families identified by Florence Fuller as having food insecurity. These families may not have enough food to eat on weekends. Now, C.H.O.W. is helping 50 students and their families.

“On the weekends, right here in our community, many struggling families are unable to provide adequate nutrition for their children,” Florence Fuller CEO Ellyn Okrent said. “The Rotary Club Downtown Boca Raton fills this gap for many of the neediest children and families in Southern Palm Beach County and we are grateful for its partnership.”

The program is led by the rotary chapter’s founding president Alan Kaye and Board Member Tabitha Stambaugh. The club coordinates with Pan-Florida Challenge, a Naples-based company that provides the Super Power Pack food packages and Boca Helping Hands that stores the food. On Friday mornings, rotary club members volunteer to pack and deliver the meals to Florence Fuller.

The program works on a confidential basis. Recipients of the meal packages take home the packages in bags that are not visible to other students. The packages are handed to the parent prior to child pickup.

“The ability to keep confidentiality allows the recipients not to feel shame or embarrassment when they receive assistance,”Stambaugh said. “At that age of the recipients, this is of utmost importance.”

In addition to food, small, never-opened wrapped personal items donated by individuals and businesses, such as toothbrushes, toothpaste, soap, shampoo are also provided.

“We are currently serving 50 students, 52 weeks of the year, with a family size of four, serving 10,000 during a year in our community with this weekend family program,” Kaye said. “With more funding we can continue to grow C.H.O.W. to support more than 2,600 families annually.”

Okrent said the service meets a need that has been overlooked.

“During the weekdays, our centers provide two meals and a snack per day to more than 600 children, ensuring that two-thirds of children’s nutritional needs are met daily, and now C.H.O.W. meets a need that would otherwise be overlooked,” she said. “Currently, based on C.H.O.W. funds, 50 children have been selected by the Centers’ staff, based on need, to be provided with a weekend food bag, filled with healthy food items.”

How to help:

$375 feeds one family each weekend for one year

$3,750 feeds 10 families each weekend for one year

$7,500 feeds 20 families each weekend for one year

To learn more and/or make donations, visit www.chowrotary.com , email chow@rotaryboca.org  or to pay online visit https://tinyurl.com/RCDBRchow.  To arrange for delivery of items, contact Deborah Freudenberg at chow@rotaryboca.org or 561-299-1429.