Joe Davis is the Executive Director of the Hearts Beat As One Foundation.
It was Sunday, March 15, when it became apparent that we had an emerging emergency need on our hands. Schools were closing with no known plans to continue meal programs for students. I knew that meant many students might not have a meal at all, and this was just the beginning.
That evening, the Hearts Beat As One Board of Directors called an emergency meeting and decided to partner with a local, minority-owned caterer, Your Custom Catering, and several faith-based groups to fund and serve lunches in four of our most at-risk populations and ZIP codes, including those surrounding NoDa (28205 and 28206). Within two days, we were serving lunches at five different sites as part of the Lunch is on Us initiative. A few days later, bars and restaurants were anticipating their closures as well, which led us to open a sixth site offering meals to those who had recently lost their income due to mandatory business closures.
Currently, the pickup locations for the Lunch is on Us program are:
- Johnny Fly, 519 E. 36th St., 1:30 p.m. Monday – Saturday
- Sacred Souls Community Church, 2127 Eastway Dr., 12 p.m. Monday – Friday
- St. Luke Missionary Baptist Church, 1600 Norris Ave., 12 p.m. Monday – Friday
- Brookhill Community – South Tryon UMC, 2516 S. Tryon St., 12 p.m. Monday – Friday (home delivery upon request)
- And the foundation is also doing daily delivery to the following facilities: Relatives Crisis Unit, Time Out Youth, and Center 360.
Although we initially thought school and business closures and the need for food assistance might last a few weeks, it quickly became apparent that we would need to expand our program and offerings. We were (and are) absolutely thrilled to pivot from planning the Carolina Equality Festival (rescheduled for May 14-16, 2021 in NoDa) to serving those in need on a daily basis due to the impact of COVID-19.
As of the end of April, we have funded and served over 12,000 meals to those in need in our various communities. Huge thank you to the many local businesses – Rosedale Health and Wellness, Dawn Pugh Real Estate team, Praesulis, and SOS Skate Park to name a few – as well as the many individual donors that have made this possible.
We look forward to continuing the Lunch is on Us program for as long as there is a need, as well as expanding into other COVID-19-related relief as opportunities arise. Please reach out if there is a new need or gap that needs to be filled. We are here to serve until this crisis is over. Until then, stay safe and healthy. We look forward to seeing you on the other side.
Want to help?
To donate, visit heartsbeatasonefoundation.org. Fifty dollars will fund 16 lunches, and a donation of any amount will help sustain the program.
There are volunteer opportunities on the foundation’s Facebook page.
Anyone with questions or interest in supporting the foundation’s COVID-19 relief can reach out at 704.842.9333 or to Bethany McDonald at email@example.com.