On Thursday, November 19th, 2020 Cobb Community Foundation awarded $27,000 in grants, wrapping up the final phase of Operation Meal Plan. The initiative began in March of 2020 with the Cobb Chamber of Commerce and Cobb Community Foundation (“CCF”) partnering to provide food to those in need, help local restaurants keep their workers employed, and provide a vehicle for citizens to help each other.
In its first couple of months, Operation Meal Plan received $89,000 in community contributions, funding 13,850 meals delivered by 22 different restaurants and caterers to 25 different non-profit programs around Cobb, all of which serve meals as part of their mission.
At the end of May, Operation Meal Plan went on hiatus when Cobb’s board of commissioners allocated $1 million from its CARES Act dollars for the Cobb County Food Grant, providing an alternative source for funding of these meals for the non-profits. Remaining dollars, including a half of a $50,000 total contribution to CCF from Lockheed-Martin, would be held for distribution in the fall.
The grants, payable to six different organizations in increments of $3,000 to $6,000, were used to purchase prepared meals from Cobb restaurants or catering businesses. “Ten months in to this pandemic, non-profit staff members and volunteers desperately need a break,” said Shari Martin, CCF’s president and CEO. “In many cases, they have been serving significantly more clients, and in all cases, they are doing so with far fewer people. Not only are these grants going to provide some financial relief, they are also going to provide some physical and emotional relief.”
Davis Direction/The Zone received a $6,500 grant that fed 1,005 clients. Holly Reynolds said “Thank you for including us in receiving funding during these unprecedented times. We appreciate the Cobb Community Foundation and Cobb Chamber’s support of Davis Direction Foundation’s mission.” Zaby’s, Panera Bread, Chick-fil-A and the Lunch Basket all participated in providing meals to The Zone and helped the two 36 hour rooms over the holidays which were open from 9:00 am until 10:00 am the following day providing fellowship and meals that fed 800 people.
Center for Children and Young Adults (CCYA) received a $6,000 grant that fed 805 resident meals while supporting local restaurants. Jennifer LeBrecque said “Many, many thanks to Cobb Community Foundation for this grant!! It was such a great opportunity for our kids to try foods such as Greek (It’s Greek to US), Jamaican (Natty’s Jamaican Restaurant), Australian (Australian Bakery), and Chinese (House of Lu II) while also allowing them to enjoy some of their favorites such as bar-b-que (Willie Jewell’s Old School BBQ), wings (Austell Wings), Waffle House, soul food (Manna House), and pizza/pasta (Maggiono’s). It was also welcome break for our short-staffed campus kitchen and our budget…all while supporting the businesses that are so important to our community. This was just a fantastic program and we are so appreciative to have been included!”
The Table on Delk received a $3,500 grant that fed 492 guests. Tina Williford said “From December 2020 to April 2021, the generous funding allowed us to serve 492 of our guests and patronize 9 different food/catering establishments in Cobb County. Our folks were able to feast on a wide variety of cuisines that they might now normally be able to, including Brazilian, Indian. Asian and good old fashion Southern fare. Also, having the ability to source prepared food from somewhere other than our already overworked volunteers, helped relieve a tremendous burden. We, at the Table, are extremely grateful for all the time, energy, and resources that went into organizing, funding, and implementing Operation Meal Plan. The grant was received at the perfect time and helped meet the growing need of food insecurity our guests experience.”
Devereux Advanced Behavioral Health received a $3,500 grant that fed 1,169 residents with their most favorite meal being the Christmas Around the World dinner feeding 235 people on campus. Four different types of cuisine were served, Chinese (Asian Garden), American (Hunt House/Parsley’s Catering), Caribbean (Golden Crust) and Mexican (On the Border). Brenda Vazquez said “Thank you once again for providing funds to help us bring Holiday Cheer to the children and youth we serve, as well as our staff. We appreciate you!”
The Extension received a $3,000 grant that fed 489 residents. The Extension lost most of their volunteers who cooked dinner for the residents during COVID and were in need of 20 nights worth of dinners to feed 57 residents each night on the men’s campus. Operation Meal Plan was able to fill the gap with dinners from Popeye’s, Sonny’s BBQ, Zaxby’s, Don Pedro’s and Cafe Hot Wings!
LiveSAFE Resources received a $4,500 grant that fed 443 of their clients. Molly Nash said “Operation Meal Plan grant money was a great way to support and feed our clients while also supporting restaurants and small business at the same time. We were able to feed all the women and children in the domestic violence shelter multiple times – which was such a treat for them! We also used the funds to help feed a few clients and their children living in our transitional housing apartments when they were quarantined and recovering from COVID-19. We are incredibly thankful we could better assist clients while recovering and provide delicious meals to those in the shelter.”