The EquipmentShare No Child Hungry program, which provided food resources, school supplies and more to children and families in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrated its one-year anniversary at an event at New Haven Elementary School on Thursday, March 26, where 200 bags of food were provided to the community.
The program and its volunteers celebrated providing more than 140,000 meals to families, children and seniors since March 2020. Three local Columbia Public Schools educators were also awarded the inaugural EquipmentShare Community Hero Award for their instrumental help in getting meals and groceries to families throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
“When we created this program, it was only supposed to provide local school kids with meals for a week, during their spring break,” said Craig Hindelang, EquipmentShare employee and No Child Hungry program leader. “It’s been a year and 140,000 meals later, and we’re not stopping. There’s a need to fill in this community, and we’ll be there to fill it as long as we can.”
In March 2020, Hindelang and Matthew Bade, EquipmentShare senior project manager, created the No Child Hungry program to provide food resources to children who would go without meals during spring break and school closures. The two started a GoFundMe to raise money to purchase food, and Hindelang, who serves as EquipmentShare’s headquarters chef, prepared the food to be distributed at local schools. Volunteers from the company's team helped distribute the meals at socially distanced pick-ups. Local organizations also contributed to the program’s efforts, and EquipmentShare was honored with a Kindness in Business Award from Missouri Business Alert.
“Without the support and partnership of our local teachers and the community, this wouldn’t have been possible,” Bade says. “Our team of volunteers and other organizations and businesses in the community, like the Odd Fellows and Love Coffee, also helped us throughout the year with monetary and food donations.”
EquipmentShare worked with local Columbia Public Schools educators to identify areas of need and execute the pick-ups. Throughout the entire year, CPS teachers continued to pick up food prepared by Hindelang and deliver it to their students and other families.
“[The program] has been a beautiful gift and has given us and many families moments of light in a dark time,” Rebecca McCorkle, a member of CPS’ Parents As Teachers staff, said. McCorkle has been delivering food weekly to families in need, especially single mothers and refugees, with the help of the program.
“When the pandemic hit, our first thought was our students,” said Christy Perkey, a New Haven Elementary school teacher . “We thought, ‘What will we do next?’ Enter EquipmentShare. My coworkers and I delivered food and had the best time passing it out, seeing our kids again. And it didn’t stop there. It was incredible.”
The program continues to provide meals to families that teachers identify as in need and has now distributed over 140,000 meals. At the event on March 26, the program distributed 200 bags of food items and toiletries to families selected by the teachers prior to the students’ spring break. Additionally, to thank them for their continued support and honor them for their dedication throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, EquipmentShare surprised McCorkle, Perkey, and Jeremiah Settles of Oakland Middle School with its inaugural Community Hero award, along with $1,000 each to use at their schools toward filling similar needs. Hear Perkey and Settles discuss No Child Hungry and its impact on their students in this video.
“It’s inspiring to witness the power of kindness,” said Danielle Schlacks, a member of EquipmentShare’s executive leadership team. “This team continues to give their time and talent to this program, making sure we, as a community, are taking care of those most in need. We’re proud to support this initiative and others like it, but the credit goes to the volunteers and our local educators, who have been the real heroes throughout the past year.”