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ForKids asks for meal donations

A local nonprofit is asking for a small donation to make a big difference.

The Suffolk location of ForKids is looking for folks in the community to help by donating food for its Beyond the Bell program.

Beyond the Bell is an afterschool program that helps kids whose families are homeless, partially homeless or have housing insecurity. When their family is on the move due to a lack of stable housing, many of these kids can fall behind. This program helps get these kids back on track and keep up with their peers.

“We make sure that the kids’ needs are being met as well,” said Zakkiyya Anderson, community partnerships manager. “Ninety percent of our kids get promoted, which is huge for students who are grades behind.”

At this program, ForKids also provides dinner. Before the pandemic, churches and civic groups would regularly make meals to bring or make them in the ForKids kitchen. There were also restaurant partners that donated meals. However, with COVID-19, many churches and organizations are not currently meeting or do not have the resources to help as they once did.

“Not only are these kids learning and able to move on with their peers, but they can get fed,” said Anderson. “This is huge for the parents that they have one less meal to worry about when there are so many other things on their mind. One meal could make a huge difference.”

Thirty children participate in this program. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the students alternate days, having only 15 present at a time who would need a meal.

To donate meals, the food must either be bought from a restaurant or the store. The meals can range from getting tacos from Taco Bell to dropping off a few frozen lasagnas for the staff to heat up later.

“With COVID-19, the food needs to come from a Virginia Health Department or Centers for Disease Control approved location to provide extra security to the students and staff,” said Anderson.

Anderson said even though kids always love pizza, generous donors are encouraged to try to space out the food options to give the kids variety and some healthier eating options.

The classes last through the beginning of June, when the school year ends. There are 15 nights that need donors, which are mainly in May and June towards the end of the year. ForKids will start back up in August with the new school year, making this a continual need to fill.

To sign up, visit tinyurl.com/ForKidsmeals. For more information, contact Zakkiyya Anderson at zanderson@forkids.org.