Fulfill steps up to help Lakewood public school children in summer program
Fulfill, formerly the Foodbank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties, has come to the aid of Lakewood school children with their summer program.
While state officials work on advancing $36-million to Lakewood schools to fund their schools and programs, Fulfill is working with the girl scouts of Ocean County to make sure the 150 children in summer programs have breakfast and lunch over the next couple months.
The Ocean County Girl Scouts are running a six week program for under served children in Lakewood and that's where the money to fund their program was coming from so when the district shut down Monday, the OCGS had to come up with a plan-b.
They had enough to feed the students on Monday morning and afternoon but when they saw there wouldn't be enough for Tuesday, they called up Fulfill.
"It was heartbreaking, quite frankly, to hear the girl scouts on the other end of the line when they called me," said. "To hear the sound in their voices...which was how am I going to feed these kids for the next five weeks if the budget crisis isn't resolved and if Lakewood isn't able to come back online?"
Fulfill was able to expedite the paperwork process and make sure that these children would have food by Tuesday morning.
"We were able to reach out to our chef (Ray Katley) and ask him if he could handle another 100-125 kids and of course he said yes," Kim Guadagno, Fulfill CEO and President, said. "We were able to take what could have been a disaster for those kids on Monday morning and within a matter of hours figure out how to make sure that kids in Ocean County don't go hungry on Tuesday."
The number of students served at Georgian Court University then rose to 150 children.
Guadagno said starting on Wednesday these children will be apart of Fulfill's summer feeding program.
"We'll be folding them completely into the regular school summer feeding program that we have for kids in Monmouth and Ocean County," Guadagno said.
While the $36-million tried to get advanced into the Lakewood public school district's budget, Fulfill will continue their mission of feeding the children.
"We are going to feed these kids until the state of New Jersey and Lakewood figure out exactly what their path forward is," Guadagno said. "If they had the $36-million dollars, why did this become such a crisis? I don't want to be cynical in anyway but the bottom line for us is that Fulfill will be there for these kids until we're no longer needed. The kids are hungry, they need to be fed, it's as simple as that."
Fulfill provides nearly 10,000 meals to kids in the summer who go hungry without school open.
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