How is the food prepared and delivered to kids?

The food is prepared at Ollie’s Restaurant and then packaged and delivered to the children’s homes by Volunteers.

What is the cost and how is it funded?

Using Ollie’s buying power, its kitchen efficiencies and volunteers to package and deliver the meals, Dinners For Kids succeeds in producing complete meals for $3.50 per meal or $1,092 per year per child. 

The program depends solely on donations and grants. All the funds donated to the program are used for the direct costs of preparing the meals. It is a volunteer-based program, with no paid staff and no facility expenses. To date, we have served over 400,000 meals to hundreds of at-risk children, raising over $900,000 to cover the cost of the food. Dinners For Kids is a 501(c)(3) organization with fully audited financial reports. All donations are tax deductible.

How are children identified for participation?

The participating children are referred to the program by local school guidance counselors and principals, Head Start administrative staff, and case workers at Children & Youth Services. Once a child is identified, Dinners For Kids provides meals for all of the minor siblings in the household. Our goal is to feed the children during a time when the parents/care takers are not capable of doing so, in addition to directing them to other social services that can help them get back on their feet. In collaboration with Family Service Association of Northeastern Pennsylvania, printed information on other local resources, ranging from financial assistance, food banks, mental health services, substance abuse services, housing programs, and other local providers is given to each family. Families are directed to call 211 with other issues that may arise. 

What outcomes have been achieved?

The results to-date have been far beyond expectations!  The teachers and social workers report that there is major improvement in the participating childrens’ behavior and learning abilities. By receiving letters from the families, Dinners For Kids has learned that not only do the kids not go to sleep hungry anymore, but receiving the dinners also reduces stress in the families and helps them have a family dinner together. Proudly, the program received a grant to fund academic research by King’s College about the overall effect of the program on the participating childrens’ behavior and school performance.  The results were positive!

With so many other programs and organizations tackling hunger, what makes Dinners for Kids different?

There is no one solution to childhood hunger. Every program solves the problem for a niche of the population. Despite the decades of great programs such as Food Stamps (SNAP), food banks and pantries, USDA after school and summer food programs, many children are food insecure. Food insecurity is estimated to affect 1 in 5 children.  Dinners for Kids is unique because it identifies children who may lack decent meals at home through a referral system and provides nutritious dinners for them every day of the year.

Why spend resources on providing meals instead of educating the families to be self-sufficient?

Dinners For Kids agrees that both factors are important. Education and referral to services only provides partial success.   Even for those who succeed – the road is long, and the children need to be fed in the interim.

Do you serve “homeless” families?

In the last few months, we have received many referrals for children who desperately need our service. Since the start of Dinners For Kids, we have increased the number of children we serve from 160 to 210. High inflation rates affect low-income families more than the average family. Since their income is primarily used to pay for necessities such as food, utilities and rent, low-income families are forced to cut their food budget. In severe cases, families could not afford the higher cost of food and increased rent and became homeless. Some families with children are placed in local motels by Children & Youth  Services. Dinners For Kids provides these children with prepared dinners, ready to heat up in the microwave, at no charge to the families or the County. Sadly, for these families, the “kitchen” in the motel rooms consist of only a mini fridge and a microwave.