BATON ROUGE - Gov. John Bel Edwards has approved the first grant from the Governor's COVID-19 Response Fund, a gift that will help a nonprofit feed thousands of children through the summer across South Louisiana.
The Governor's Fund issued a $100,000 grant to the Three O'Clock Project, which expanded its meal distribution services after some public school systems shuttered their cafeterias.
"Feeding our state's children is one of the many challenges we have faced during this COVID-19 pandemic. Daily nutrition is essential to fighting child hunger, and this grant will ensure that Louisiana's children will still receive meals during this challenging time in our state," Gov. Edwards said. "We are grateful to have partners like the Three O'Clock Project who are working every day to get meals to the children who need it most."
The Baton Rouge-based nonprofit had a food operation in the capital city, where it prepares free after-school meals for children-in-need. Building operations to meet a surge in demand, Three O'Clock hired more than 350 workers to coordinate meal distribution from a central location at Celtic Studios.
"We always go back to our mission of providing healthy meals to all children," said Emily Chatelain, executive director. "With the governor's funds, we can increase our reach across the parishes to serve 30,000 plus kids a day."
The nonprofit is serving free meals to children under 18 in East Baton Rouge, St. Landry, Assumption, Iberville and Ascension parishes, as well as other parishes across the state.
A consortium of more than 60 restaurants is preparing thousands of meals daily, retaining restaurants workers who would otherwise have been unemployed because of the coronavirus outbreak. The meals comply with U.S. Government guidelines, letting Three O'Clock draw down federal funds to pay for them. The nonprofit also relies on grants and contributions to underwrite operations.
In Baton Rouge, Three O'Clock is providing home delivered and to-go meals at sites in a partnership with BREC parks. More information about all the meal sites is at https://www.threeoclockproject.org/covid.
Three O'Clock has pledged to provided free meals to children through the summer, with the expectation that kids will return to eat breakfast and lunch at their schools in the fall.
The Baton Rouge Area Foundation, Huey and Angelina Wilson Foundation and the Irene W. & C.B. Pennington Foundation each contributed $400,000 to seed the $1.2 million Governor John Bel Edwards COVID-19 Response fund, fulfilling a request by Governor Edwards. He expected the initial need to be feeding people during the pandemic.