The Dinners for Kids non-profit program was founded by David Tevet, owner of Ollie’s Restaurant, Edwardsville, PA to deliver nutritionally balanced dinner meals to children in need.
More then 1 in 4 children in the United States do not receive nutritious food on a consistent basis. In Luzerne County, more then 10,500 children are food insecure. Children who lack a nutritionally balanced diet are more likely to exhibit behavior problems, poor school performance, and impaired cognitive development.
While government supported school breakfast and lunch programs for needy children are available during the school year, and on a more limited basis during the summer months; dinner meals are not funded. Dinners for Kids was developed to meet this unfilled need.
Community Advisory Board:
A group of volunteers with representatives from the religious community, Luzerne County Office of Human Services, the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO), the Luzerne Foundation, Luzerne County Children and Youth Services, Wyoming Valley West School District, and legal and corporate business leaders is in place to guide the program and secure funding.
Pilot Program Model:
The Dinners for Kids program is administered by CEO and staffed by volunteers. It began in February 2011 feeding 40 children identified by the Wyoming Valley School District. Mr. Tevet cooks the meals at his restaurant keeping the production cost of meals to about $1.70 each, and uses volunteers to pack and deliver the meals directly to the children’s homes. The children receive, at no charge, six meals per week, year round, that include fresh fruits. The weekly cost per child is $10, $520 for a full year. The recruitment of volunteers has resulted in a level of interest that exceeds the demand. Letters and other feedback from parents, relatives and teachers of the children involved in the pilot program have indicated the recipients are eating healthier, sleeping better and have improved attention spans in the classroom. The program not only benefits children right now, it also will have an impact on our society as a whole as they grow up better educated and healthier.
Once established, the program is easily replicable.
As the program gets no state or federal funding, it depends solely on grants from endowments and donations from corporations and individuals. The program is volunteer based, with no paid staff or overhead, so all donated funds are used to provide nutritious meal to the children in need.
Funding and Sustainability:
Mr. Tevet in partnership with the Community Advisory Group is seeking funding from a combination of corporate endorsements, foundation grants, and donations from service clubs and individuals. The goal is to create a sustainable model program that can be replicated in the region and beyond.
Currently, we serve 46 children. There are many more children on a waiting list. Unfortunately, we are unable to serve them for lack of sufficient funds. A grant of $20,800 will enable us to serve 40 more children for a whole year.