Local business looking for volunteers for Dinners for Kids program


Volunteers package meals for the Dinners for Kids program

A local business is looking for college student volunteers for its non-profit program that donates meals to local children.

Dinners for Kids is a program dedicated to delivering meals to children in the Wyoming Valley. The program started in 2011 and was founded by David Tevet, owner of the local restaurant Ollie’s in Edwardsville.

The program, which is made up of mostly retirees and those over 65, is currently looking for new college student volunteers to deliver meals. The program recently expanded its program to Dan Flood Elementary School in Wilkes-Barre and needs drivers from the area.

The program is currently delivering to around 80 children. The group meets every Monday, Wednesday and Friday to pack two meals at a time in order. For example, on Monday they pack meals for Monday and Tuesday. The children receive six meals per week year-round. The meals are placed in microwave-safe plastic bowls in order to be reheated later.

Arlene Muchler, a retiree volunteer who has been with the program since it first started, explained the process of packaging up the food.

“We pack the meals, and pack the fruit, and put it in a bag, and then they box them up and deliver them.”

The organization is filled with pride over the meals’ healthy components. One recent meal contained two chicken legs, mashed potatoes, carrots and gravy.

The drivers go in teams of two, with one person driving and the other person running the food. The drivers participate on their own schedule, with some drivers only driving once a month, and others participating every week. The food is picked up then delivered every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday around 3 p.m.

“Sometimes if [the drivers] are late, the kids start getting nervous, and start thinking maybe they won’t get the meals today,” said Tevet, founder of the program. He started the program after learning of the child hunger statistics in the area. There are estimates of 10,500 hungry children in the Luzerne county alone.

“You see it all the time and you don’t realize it, it could be around the corner from your house.”

Tevet visited an elementary school that has a free breakfast program, and cited what he saw there as proof of the problem.

Sean Connelly
From left to right: Cindy Levinson, Sandi Fine, Claudia Piczak, and Kathy Howantiz

“The one day, the bus was late so they allowed the kids to bring their food to the classroom, and I saw a kid from pre-k and he walked with a plate loaded with food, with five bananas on top of it,” Tevet remembered. “If a kid like that takes five bananas it means he doesn’t get food at home.”

Tevet also did his own personal research into the types of meals these children are eating, which led him to make it a point to create healthy, nutritious dinners.

“I went to supermarkets and I asked them, ‘What do people buy with food stamps?’ and I realized that they said many people with food stamps buy junk food, candy and packaged food,” explained Tevet. “I realized that not only do some of [the children] not eat, they eat the wrong food.”

“There are many, many reasons [for why children are not getting food], but no matter what the reason is, we solve the problem,” said Tevet, explaining the program’s philosophy.

Schools across the area are noticing the importance of the program, and are considering doing scientific studies into its effectiveness by examining attentiveness and number of absences.

“Just making sure a kid doesn’t go to sleep hungry is good enough for us,” said Tevet. “But it’s the icing on the cake if we get this unintended consequence of diversing the negative effects of child hunger.”

Sean Connelly
Sandi Fine is one of many retirees volunteering for Dinners for Kids. The program is currently looking for college students.

Kristin Osipower, the university’s Interfaith Coordinator, spoke on the benefits of volunteering for the program.

“The simple gift of bringing nutritious meals to young children in need will help those kids continue to stay healthy and do well in school,” she said, “They are the next generation of college students.”

“It’s also very impactful for children to see young adults giving their time to do good things. After all, we all want the same thing — a happy, healthier and safer world.”

For information on volunteering, contact David Tevet at [email protected] or Kristin Osipower at [email protected].