YMCA begins food distribution program across Shelby County

By Updated: March 25, 2020 4:44 PM CT | Published: March 23, 2020 3:02 PM CT
<strong>Parent Desha Pullen (right) picks up instructional learning packets and meals for her children during a Shelby County Schools food-distribution event Monday, March 23, at Orange Mound Community Center.&nbsp;Monday was the first day the YMCA began running 62 meal-distribution sites across Shelby County.</strong> (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

Parent Desha Pullen (right) picks up instructional learning packets and meals for her children during a Shelby County Schools food-distribution event Monday, March 23, at Orange Mound Community Center. Monday was the first day the YMCA began running 62 meal-distribution sites across Shelby County. (Mark Weber/Daily Memphian)

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A mother of four, Desha Pullen is willing to do whatever she can to help her children succeed in life.

On Monday morning, March 23, that meant making a trip to the Orange Mound Community Center to pick up meals and instructional learning packets for her children. This was the first day the YMCA began running 62 meal-distribution sites across Shelby County.

“Anything I can do to help make that possible,” Pullen, 33, said. “I’m here for it.”


YMCA to run Shelby County Schools meal distribution program during closure


Shelby County Schools announced YMCA would take over its food-distribution program on Sunday. This decision came after SCS confirmed a nutrition employee tested positive for COVID-19, and the district suspended the meal-distribution program as a precaution against the virus.

SCS planned to run the meal-distribution program as long as schools are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There are 84 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Shelby County, as of Monday morning. 

Pullen’s children attend Aspire Hanley Elementary School in Orange Mound, operated by the state’s Achievement School District. However, SCS Superintendent Joris Ray said the district would not turn away anyone as long as a child under 18 was present.


Food drives offer hope, encourage others to help


“As a community-based partner, we are thankful for the opportunity to do our part and respond to Dr. Ray’s call to help serve the immediate needs of our community, especially our children,” Jerry Martin, president and CEO of YMCA of Memphis & the Mid-South, said in a news release. “We truly are grateful to collaborate with our partners at SCS to help feed our children.”

Meals distributed Monday included a pre-packaged sandwich, fruit and snack. The instructional learning packets were available for students who do not have access to the internet.

YMCA will serve meals at all 62 sites from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday through Friday. However, the instructional packets will be available for pickup on Tuesday only.


Millington offers free lunches for students


Activity was relatively slow Monday at several sites including Lester Community Center in Binghampton and Ed Rice Community Center in Frayser. However, the Orange Mound distribution site saw an uptick in families arriving around noon.

SCS Board member Joyce Dorse-Coleman was also at Orange Mound Community Center to pick up instructional packets for her grandchildren.

Dorse-Coleman, whose district includes Orange Mound, was expecting a stronger turnout. She said maybe the district needed to communicate the last-minute change better to make sure families take full advantage of the program.

“By tomorrow, if I don’t have a lot of turnout in my district, I’ll get packages and take them to stores … I’m going to go where the people are,” Dorse-Coleman said. “Because some people may not be able to get up here.”

Topics

Shelby County Schools YMCA Orange Mound
Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf

Omer Yusuf covers Binghampton, Frayser, North Memphis and Raleigh for The Daily Memphian. Omer previously covered county government. He is also a former reporter at The Jackson Sun and a University of Memphis graduate.


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