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'Dinners for Kids' program honored
Article from The Times Leader on November 2, 2011

The Millennium Circle Fund gives $20,000 grant to the CEO for effort begun by Ollie’s owner

An innovative program founded by an Edwardsville restaurateur to feed local needy children nutritionally balanced meals was awarded a grant Tuesday to help further that mission.

he Millennium Circle Fund of The Luzerne Foundation presented a $20,000 grant to the Commission on Economic Opportunity for the “Dinners for Kids” program at the Millennium Circle’s 2011 Annual Luncheon.

During the luncheon, a representative from each of six nonprofit finalists – narrowed from a field of 13 – presented to almost 200 Millennium Circle members and guests how the grant would help their organization and, by extension, the community. Millennium Circle members then voted on which charity should receive the grant.

David Tevet, who owns Ollie’s, An American Restaurant, with his wife, Edna, apparently made the best case. “Dinners For Kids fights childhood hunger and improves children’s health with a program that is simple in concept, cost effective, practical in application, proven by results, and easily replicable,” he said.

When the Tevets learned that more than 10,000 children in Luzerne County are at risk of getting no decent daily meal other than their school-provided lunches and no decent meal at all when school is out, they came up with the idea last year of providing some of these children “kid-approved” nutritious and balanced dinners in microwave-safe containers, accompanied by fresh fruit and homemade desserts.

Children were referred to the program by teachers and county Children & Youth social workers.

The food is prepared at Ollie’s and delivered to children’s homes by volunteers. Because of the restaurant’s buying power and volunteers, one complete meal costs about $1.70, far below the rate for federal food programs. It costs about $21,000 a year to feed 40 children, and the program now serves 50, Tevet said, adding that the grant will enable the program to add another 40 children.

Tevet hopes a regular source of funding can be secured so he can approach other restaurants with a challenge to replicate the program and serve more needy children. He noted the program is effective because it can’t be taken advantage of in ways that food stamp programs can.

The Millennium Circle Fund was created by a group of donors whose gifts of $2,000 help the Luzerne Foundation identify significant unmet community needs. The ultimate goal is to have 2,000 members and a fund that can present community grants totaling $200,000 annually. 

Dinners for Kids: Feeding the Future
Article featured in IndependentNEPA Magazine

If you walk into Ollie’s Restaurant, in Edwardsville, on a Monday afternoon, you won’t just see dining customers and busy waitresses. You will see tables topped with entrees like turkey, chicken parmesan, and homemade strawberry cake with sprinkles that smells better than your mother’s kitchen. And, you will also see a group of Dinners for Kids volunteers who couldn’t be happier to be fighting against child hunger.

Troubled by the number of children in America living in food-insecure households– more than 17 million– Ollie’s Restaurant Owner Dave Tevet sought a way to use his resources to feed the hungry children in his community balanced and nutritious meals.

With the help of Luzerne County Children and Youth Services, the Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO), and the Wyoming Valley West School District, Tevet started Dinners for Kids, a nonprofit initiative that delivers six dinners a week to the children of food-insecure homes. The first meals were delivered in February 2011 to children in Edwardsville, Larksville, and Lehman.

“It’s a simple solution to a serious problem,” Tevet said.

For single mothers, custodial grandparents, and low-income parents, the responsibility of purchasing and preparing healthy meals for children can be overwhelming. While most schools offer low-cost or free breakfast and lunch to students in need, none offer dinner or weekend meal programs. Children often go to bed hungry, living their lives from school lunch to school lunch, not getting the nutrients they need to grow and develop.

Using the wholesale food resources available to him at Ollie’s, Tevet was able to reduce expenses so that each meal could be made for only $1.70. Dinners for Kids can provide the children six meals for only $10 per week, and $520 per year.
Dinners for Kids Program Fills Bodies and Minds
According to the Luzerne County Commission on Economic Opportunity (CEO), there are more than 10,500 children in Luzerne County who are food insecure. The Dinners for Kids Program began with a group of volunteers and resources from Dave Tevet, the owner of Ollie's Restaurant. Now the program is providing nutitritious meals to those children most in need.

It's a simple process: A list of eligible children is provided by Children and Youth as well as school officials; the meals are prepared at Ollie's Restaurant staff, packaged and delivered by volunteers. To continue this simple, yet successful formula, we need volunteers and donations.  You can help...Fight childhood hunger with healthy meals today!


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