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Boys & Girls Clubs has provided 12,000 meals over the past 12 days.
Photo provided by Brandy Harris
Boys & Girls Clubs has provided 12,000 meals over the past 12 days.

Boys & Girls Clubs pivots to drive-thru meal service

Posted online

Kids may no longer spend their afternoons at Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield Inc., but that doesn’t mean the nonprofit isn’t working to meet their needs.

CEO Brandy Harris said the coronavirus pandemic caused the nonprofit to shift gears, now providing meals through drive-thru and delivery services and offering virtual programming.

“While everything looks and feels different, our mission is the same,” she said.

Over 12 days, Harris said Boys & Girls Clubs provided nearly 12,000 meals through distribution sites at its Henderson, Musgrave and Stalkner units.

“We know that hunger is crippling and that the majority of our families get their meals at school and Boys & Girls Clubs,” she said, adding they will continue these services indefinitely.

“We wanted to not just provide the meal and address the hunger, but provide that piece of stability and structure.”

Harris said the nonprofit serves 2,500 kids on a regular basis, as well as an additional 8,000 through outreach programs. She estimated the organization already has increased its reach by 500 people in the past two weeks.

No staffer has been laid off or furloughed during this time, she said. The 123 employees of Boys & Girls Clubs have been reassigned to staff meal services and create online activities and videos for children.

“It takes a lot of people to serve the numbers that we serve,” Harris said. “Any nonprofit would say their biggest need right now, when it comes to support, is the ability to pay people to operate.”

Boys & Girls Clubs’ 2020 operating budget is $3.8 million, but Harris they are preparing for a dip in revenue. The nonprofit’s annual Steak & Steak dinner, which brought in roughly $500,000 last April, is postponed.

She said the nonprofit plans to apply for disaster loans through the U.S. Small Business Administration.

“We need more support,” Harris said, adding she’s thankful for those who have donated even small amounts.

“I don’t think people realize what $25 does for us right now. That provides a family with meals for a week.”

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