Aquila Harris (pictured on the right) is on a mission. Literally.
“I kept getting a message from God to feed these kids,” she said. And that is what she is doing as a site coordinator for one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s Grab and Go program. Each week day she meets the Food Bank van which delivers coolers filled with meals and beverages at 9:15 a.m. in front of Harris’s family-owned property on Milby Street in Harrington.
Unfortunately, demand has far outpaced funding for this summer program. The Food Bank has started a Go Fund Me campaign to help raise an additional $30,000, the amount needed to keep the program running until the start of school.
The Grab and Go meals are assembled by volunteers at the Food Bank and distributed every weekday, with additional meals supplied for the weekend on Friday. Meals usually include a sandwich, snack, milk, and bottled water. Privately funded, Grab and Go offers kids a flexible, convenient way to get healthy, free meals over the summer months. Unlike traditional summer meal programs, this program permits children to take their meals home to consume.
And unlike most sites where the kids come out to pick up their lunches, Harris packs meals for 24 children and delivers them in bags door-to-door.
She has a signature knock, followed by a cheerful greeting. “Lunch Lady. It’s the Lunch Lady.”
Harris, the mother of three grown daughters, has a bright smile and energetic step, despite having worked overnight as a home health aide, caring for a dying patient.
She believes delivering the lunches to children is her calling. “My grandmother, Queenie Coleman, was a missionary,” Harris said. Her grandfather, the late Rev. Ellsworth Coleman, was a well known pastor at Mt. Zion AME Church in Ellendale.
Now in her second summer managing “Spreading Hope During Lunch,” Harris said she recruited participants by going door to door. For those who weren’t home, she left door knocker tags provided by the Food Bank. “Those really helped,” she said.
Although Harris is now a Milford resident, she has a long-time connection with Milby Street and its residents.
“I take lunch and encouragement. The lunches let me do it,” she said. “I’m hoping it’s bigger next year.”
The Food Bank’s Children’s Meal Coordinator Kim Dickerson is all too aware of the value of Harris’s commitment. “Aquila reached out directly to the Food Bank to provide this service to her community. She is a true neighborhood champion for the Grab and Go program.”
About 1 in 6 children in Delaware is food insecure, and according to Feeding America, nearly 13 million children nationwide face hunger. Food insecurity, according to the Centers for Disease Control, is considered an Adverse Childhood Experience which can create life-long problems. Lack of proper nutrition impacts physical and mental health as well as academic achievement, according to the CDC’s website.
The Grab and Go program is made possible thanks to:
- Harry K
- Giant Food
- Citizens Bank
- Islamic Relief USA
- Share our Strength
- Kraft Heinz through Feeding America
- Enterprise Rent-A-Care Foundation through Feeding America
For more information about the Food Bank of Delaware and our hunger-relief efforts, visit www.fbd.org.