CORONAVIRUS: Springfield nonprofit serves over 15,000 free meals; need continues

Kelly Myers, center, a H.O.P.E. volunteer, passes out free meals with other volunteers Wednesday. H.O.P.E, a nonprofit organization in Springfield, has served over 15,000 meals since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. BILL LACKEY/STAFF
Kelly Myers, center, a H.O.P.E. volunteer, passes out free meals with other volunteers Wednesday. H.O.P.E, a nonprofit organization in Springfield, has served over 15,000 meals since the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. BILL LACKEY/STAFF

A Springfield nonprofit has served over 15,000 free meals to the local community during the coronavirus pandemic and is continuing their efforts.

“As long as there’s provision and as long as there’s a need we will continue,” Jackie Mounts, executive director of H.O.P.E said,

H.O.P.E is providing free hot meals 4 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday at 705 Linden Ave. They are also distributing boxes of five breakfasts and five lunches to children, ages 1 to 18. The boxes are from Second Harvest Food Bank and can be picked up 4 to 5 p.m. on Thursdays.

Mounts said that H.O.P.E distributed 1,000 breakfasts and 1,150 lunches during a recent week. She added that they have been serving around 750 hot meals a week.

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Over 100 days ago, H.O.P.E began serving lunch and hot dinners to feed their sixth though 12th grade students at their teen center, Rock of Hope, but it quickly expanded to the community.

It was “nothing we had planned on doing,” Mounts said.

“We started with just to feed our kids from the teen center for three weeks and it just evolved very quickly to a full-blown feeding site,” Mounts said. “It’s been exciting. It has also been very humbling to hear the stories.”

Mounts said they are seeing “a real blend” of people when they serve their daily hot meals.

“We are still seeing new people at times,” Mounts said. “We have seen people that were their daily for the early part of the pandemic that have now gone back to work or got another job that we no longer see. We are still seeing some of the same people every day.”

H.O.P.E, in collaboration with DreamCity Church, continues to receive donations, but Mounts said they are not receiving as much as they had in the beginning. “It’s still being taken care of.”

The organization has had over 100 new financial donors since mid-March, Mounts said. When they add in businesses and volunteers, they have had 130 to 150 people contribute to their efforts.

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“It’s been wonderful to build so many relationships with people that we would have never been able to build relationships with had it not been for this situation,” Mounts said.

For individuals wanting to donate or volunteer, Mounts said they are looking for cooks that know how to cook for large groups of people or groups to choose a night to provide a meal. They are also accepting monetary donations.

“We appreciate everyone’s help and everyone that has donated or volunteered,” Mounts said. “The people that are receiving the food are very grateful.”

Before the pandemic, H.O.P.E served dinner three times a week to about 50 students at their teen center.

The teen center is still closed due to the coronavirus pandemic, but Mounts said hopefully when the schools reopen the teen center will reopen too.

Mounts said that the community’s efforts during the pandemic have reminded her of “what a wonderful place Springfield is.”

“It’s pretty amazing to see all the people that really care about other people - people that they will never meet,” Mounts said.

For more information, search for H.O.P.E on Facebook or visit www.1hope4u.org.