24 Apr “NO CHILD SHOULD EVER GO HUNGRY” | PHILANTHROPIST LOIS POPE DONATES $1 MILLION TO PALM BEACH COUNTY FOOD BANK TO BENEFIT FOOD4OURKIDS PROGRAM FOR CHILDREN
Declaring that “no child should ever go hungry,” distinguished philanthropist Lois Pope announced today a donation of $1 million to the Palm Beach County Food Bank to support and expand its Food4OurKids weekend feeding initiative.
Food4OurKids is a year-round weekend and summer feeding program designed to help fill nutritional gaps that children face during those times. While in school, these children receive free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch, but with schools now closed because of the COVID-19 pandemic, those meals are now less available and, as a result, there is an enormous need to fill their food gap. Even before COVID-19, one in five children in the county was going to bed hungry on a nightly basis.
“No child should ever go hungry, here in Palm Beach County or anywhere else in this country,” said Mrs. Pope, a Manalapan resident. “Children need food. They need proper nutrition to learn and thrive. But now, during this corona virus pandemic, when they are not in school, they are especially at-risk of going hungry.”
Mrs. Pope — whose foundations previously provided the means for hundreds of thousands of disadvantaged Florida children to experience and enjoy a summer camp experience, among its other humanitarian initiatives — added that she feels a “responsibility to make this new contribution to the Palm Beach County Food Bank. I think all of us living here with the financial means have an obligation to help mitigate the current situation our county’s schoolchildren are facing. So I invite others – in fact, I urge others – to join me in this vitally important, essential effort.”
In gratitude for what she called “a transformative gift,” Marti LaTour, the chair of the board of the Palm Beach County Food Bank, said that the organization will re-name the children’s food initiative as “Lois’ Food4Kids” program.
“This is a complete game-changer, not just for our food bank but, more importantly, for the thousands children in the county who will benefit now during this pandemic and in the future,” said Ms. LaTour. “So my deepest gratitude to Mrs. Pope for her generosity. She is the best of the best, a true humanitarian.”
Palm Beach County represents the 10th largest school district in the U.S. More than 90% of elementary school-age children are already eligible for free or reduced-price meals, “and the need is increasing very quickly and greatly,” said Karen Erren, executive director of the Palm Beach County Food Bank. Prior to this current crisis, “we were already providing meals to more than 3,000 kids at 45 sites during the summer and on weekends. Now, that need has increased exponentially.”
Exacerbating matters is the fact that because of the pandemic the supplies of donated foods from local groceries and businesses, as well as manufacturers have been “drying up, so we are now having to purchase a lot of food,” she explained, adding that of the Palm Beach County’s 125 food pantry partners, 35 have had to cease operations for now because of lack of supplies.
“The bottom line is our phones are ringing off the hook with calls from families who are in desperate need of food, especially for their children,” Ms. Erren said. “Mrs. Pope’s historic gift is the perfect answer to these calls. It is transformational. But the need is so great that I encourage others to come alongside her because hunger relief requires the efforts of all of us.”
About Lois Pope
For more than a quarter-century, Lois Pope has been one of America’s leading philanthropists and humanitarians. She is founder of three foundations, the Lois Pope LIFE Foundation, Inc., LIFE (Leaders in Furthering Education), and the Disabled Veterans LIFE Memorial Foundation. She has championed the passage of three pieces of federal legislation to benefit disabled veterans. First, she created and spearheaded the building of the American Veterans Disabled for Life Memorial, the nation’s only permanent public tribute to the 4.2 million living disabled veterans and those who died. Second, she advocated for October 5 being declared as an annual National Day of Honor for Disabled Veterans. Third, through her partnership with American Humane, home to the Lois Pope LIFE Center for Military Affairs, she backed the nation’s first bill enabling military dogs who served in war to be brought home and, in many cases, reunited with their human soldiers as therapy dogs.
Mrs. Pope and her foundations have supported medical research, scholarships, summer camp experiences for disadvantaged children, humanitarian aid, the performing arts, and animal welfare. She recently gave $12 million to Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, its largest gift, to create the Lois Pope Center for Retinal & Macular Degeneration Research. Earlier, her gift established the Lois Pope LIFE Center at the University of Miami, home to the Miami Project/Buoniconti Fund to Cure Paralysis, the world’s leading paralysis research center. A Manalapan, FL resident, she is a mother, grandmother, and great grandmother, who has completed five marathons, and adopted several dogs and cats. For more information, visit www.life-edu.org
About the Palm Beach County Food Bank
The Palm Beach County Food Bank provides access to nutritious food for more than 100,000 hungry Palm Beach County residents every month and says demand is significantly increasing as more and more people are left without jobs and income. Typically, the Food Bank procures more than 5 million pounds of food annually from grocery stores, restaurants, food distributors, wholesalers and other sources and provides it to almost 200 local community partners and programs, including food pantries, soup kitchens and residential housing programs. However, in the wake of COVID-19, food donations have become scarce and many partner agencies have had to close their doors. For more information, visit pbcfoodbank.org.