by Terry Rogers
On Friday, March 13, Milford School District announced that it would close schools for two weeks in an effort to stop the spread of the COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. One of the issues with closing schools is that many students do not have enough food at home and the meals they get at school are the only ones they eat each day. In an effort to help students who face hunger during the school closure, local businesses My Sister’s Fault and Nancy’s Café announced that they will be offering kids meals at no charge. Milford Church of God is providing free lunch and are considering offering free breakfast while Milford School District is offering free breakfast and lunch to school children.
My Sister’s Fault have committed to providing free breakfast to 200 children each day during their regular business hours while schools are closed. “Growing up we depended on school lunches because our mother struggled,” Angie Robles said. “When the announcement was made that schools were closing Friday, I lay awake that night thinking about how many kids would not have any food to eat. I called my sister at 4 AM and said ‘we have to do something.”
Children must be present when food is ordered. Those in need are asked to pull up in front of the store on Southwest Front Street and a volunteer outside would be there to take care of the order. No purchase is required and one meal per day can be provided. All meals will be packed to go so there is no need for parents or children to come into the bakery.
Her sister, Rous, confirmed that Angie did call her early Saturday morning and she agreed. “I said, okay, let’s do it,” Rous said. “Once again, all of this is my sister’s fault. But, really, we knew that there were a lot of programs during the summer to make sure kids had enough to eat. But, this was so sudden there was no way to prepare. I am so glad other businesses and community organizations, like Nancy’s Cafe and Westside, have also stepped up to help. We are only open Wednesday through Saturday so we need others to fill in when we cannot.”
Angie explained that they had no intention of taking donations for the free food offering but many Milfordians came in to donate cash to help them in their efforts. Donations totaling almost $1,000 were used to purchase additional supplies so the bakery could provide as many meals as possible. Meals will be available on a first-come-first-served basis Wednesday through Saturday while schools are closed.
“We owe everything we have to God,” Angie said. “It was such a difficult decision to close on Sunday but we wanted to honor God. We were worried it would lower our sales significantly. We made the announcement to close on Sunday for 2020 and our sales are up 63 percent in 2020 than they were in 2019. We feel the community and God have done this for us so we need to do this for our community. We have gotten so many messages from people who say they have lived here their whole lives and never seen such an offer and that makes us cry. We feel it is the least we can do for what we have been blessed with.”
Nancy’s Cafe on Walnut Street in Downtown Milford will be offering free soup and bread for all ages that will be passed out our front door to comply with the new State of Emergency regulations.
“Years ago, when I had the cooking school, I thought of opening a place where people could eat and pay according to their means,” Nancy Chirdon Forster, owner of Nancy’s Café, said. “This popped into my head Saturday morning when I learned the schools are closing. The offer is good for anyone, no conditions. One order per person. Soups will be chicken noodle, tomato and vegetable. There may be others depending on what I can get done by Tuesday. I am making stock now. The café is open for regular business and we will still offer our full menu with take out available. Children do not have to be accompanied by an adult. We will even bring the food to them at the door if they don’t want to come inside due to potential exposure.”
Milford Church of God is in the process of offering lunch and possibly breakfast to children who may be in need while schools are closed. The church is looking for donations and volunteers to help with the program. They are asking for donations of food items, paper products and other supplies that will help them provide this valuable service. Anyone who is interested in volunteering or providing donations should contact Pastor Andy Stevens at 302-422-9138 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Cash donations can also be made by visiting https://pushpay.com/g/milfordchurchofgod and following the online instructions. It is also possible to text to give through Advantage, a weblink that can be sent to a smartphone or tablet. Text 77977 and in the body of the text type “MCOG.” A link will then be sent that will take people to the giving page.
“I know many children in our community rely on the food they receive at school for a good portion of their daily nutritional needs,” Pastor Andy Stevens said. “The thought of children going hungry in my own city broke my heart. I had just eaten a really nice meal and the thought of how easy that was for me and how children could possibly go hungry almost made me sick to my stomach. I said to myself ‘this can’t happen in my city, not under my watch as the pastor of the Church of God.’ That was the main part of the spark of inspiration that led to the clear decision that we will impact and bless our city’s children and families. We are #milfordstrong.” Pastor Stevens said that the church is also working closely with Milford School District to coordinate meal options.
On Sunday, Milford School District announced that they will be offering breakfast and lunch to students under the age of 18 starting on Wednesday, March 18. Families can participate in a drive-thru grab and go service in front of Benjamin Banneker Elementary, Mispillion Elementary and Morris Early Childhood Center from 11 to 12:30 PM each weekday during the closure of schools. The grab and go meals will include lunch for that day and breakfast for the next day.
“This is subject to change as we try to accommodate more children,” District officials stated. “Children must be with their family to receive the meals. Over the next couple of days, the district will be working with local organizations to expand food services for our families.”
For more information about the Milford School District meal service, families should call the Milford School District Administrative Office at 422-1600.