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Meals for Foreclosed

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Mounting foreclosures and financial distress are forcing more families out of homes and into cramped, low-priced motel rooms. Some resourceful volunteers have partnered with restaurants to bring meals to children living in transitional housing. Kim Riemland reports.

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SCRIPT:

(Locator: Tucker, Georgia)

Jalyn Young, Northlake Inn Resident: “Wow! This is a big slice of pizza.”

While eight-year-old Jalyn (Jay-lynn) Young chomps a free lunch, his mom Jill is getting ready for work in their 450-square foot motel room near Atlanta.

Jill Young: “I’m working the night shift. I’ll be back around 10ish.”

An economic hardship forced the Youngs to move into an extended stay motel three years ago, a growing trend among working families.

Joanna Bean, Mgr., Northlake Inn: “I’ve seen an increase in people that have been evicted, that homes have been in foreclosure.”

Summer vacation means Jalyn is in the motel room all day, but the cramped quarters aren’t the only problem.

Jill Young, Northlake Inn Resident: “Groceries are going up every day. Every day I go, it’s more expensive.”

Members of nearby First United Methodist Church of Tucker created the lunch buddy program for children who qualify for free lunch at school but go without during summers and holidays.

Robin Pounds, Coordinator, First United Methodist Church Lunch Buddy Program: “We actually were surprised that there were children right here in our own Tucker community that maybe didn’t get enough food to eat.”

The church raised more than $4,500 and partnered with five restaurants and a grocery store which donate or provide food at a minimal cost. The plan ensures children receive at least two meals a day.

Liz Grizzard, Lunch Buddy Program volunteer: “There are 24 children that need pizza, need lunch today.”

Volunteers from the church pick up the food.

Liz Grizzard: “Okay, here we go.”

Meals are personally delivered to each child’s motel room.

Joanna Bean: “Hey Kayla!”

Caregivers say the program gives kids something to look forward to.

Joanna Bean: “Hi. You are excited!”

Rachel Hamilton, Northlake Inn Resident: “We were just downstairs in the laundromat and she said, ‘Granny, we’ve got to hurry back upstairs.’ I said, ‘Why?’ and she said, ‘Our pizza is here. It’s here and so we’ve got to go!’”

In trying economic times, a smile and a hot meal make an appetizing combination.

Jalyn Young, Northlake Inn Resident: “It’s a special treat ‘cause I don’t get to eat it a lot. It just makes me feel happy inside.”

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Church volunteers plan to continue the Lunch Buddy Program during school holidays throughout the year. The congregation says one of the appealing things about the program is that volunteers of any age can find a way to participate.

For more information on the Lunch Buddy Program, contact First United Methodist Church of Tucker at 770-938-3030.

Also, see: Motel ministry feeds children

Posted: July 29, 2009