EDWARDSVILLE – On Monday, the Dinners for Kids program will reach 100 participants who together will receive a total of more than 30,000 nutritious meals annually.
David Tevet, co-owner of Ollie's restaurant, beams when he talks about the program he founded in 2011, but he turns serious while explaining the importance of the program and the need for new partners.
Tevet said he decided to start the program after seeing a television commercial that showed a young girl putting makeup on her younger brother to disguise illness so he could eat lunch at school.
I started to read about the hunger problem and I found out how many children in our area either go hungry or eat junk food every day, Tevet said. I read about the long-term effects hunger has on children's health, their performance in school and their behavior.
Tevet will receive the Citation of Distinction award from the Wyoming Valley Interfaith Council on Monday.
The award is presented each year to an individual recognized as a leader in the community who exemplifies high ideals of human dignity, compassion and friendship for all people.
The council's award luncheon will be held Monday at the Genetti Hotel and Conference Center in Wilkes-Barre.
Tevet said his wife, Edna, shares the award for her hard work and dedication to the program.
I am very flattered to have been selected for this prestigious award, Tevet said. To be honored by anybody is always great, but to receive this award from such a distinguished organization like the Interfaith Council is very humbling.
Data on the program's website, dinnersforkids.org, says more than 10,500 children in Luzerne County are food insecure, according to the Luzerne County Commission on Economic Opportunity. The Dinners for Kids program is providing nutritious meals to some of those children most in need.
Tevet said eligible children are identified by child service agencies and school officials. The meals are prepared by Ollie's restaurant staff and are packaged and delivered by volunteers.
Rabbi Roger Lerner of Temple B'nai B'rith in Kingston said the program addresses a fundamental need the entire country is trying to work on.
Right here in Wyoming Valley we have a program that can be a model for communities everywhere, Lerner said. Hunger will always be with us. The key is how we respond. One way is to assure children are fed adequately.
Lerner said relieving a child's hunger gives them the opportunity to function in school.
Volunteers package the meals every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at Ollie's. Volunteer drivers deliver the meals to homes – two meals per child – six for the week.
When you figure it all out, with 100 participants, 31,200 meals are served per year, Tevet said. We can grow the program to 150 children; after that we will need additional partners to meet the demand.
Volunteers come from All Saints Parish in Plymouth and the Church of Christ Uniting in Kingston, Tevet said.
The Tevets have owned and operated Ollie's restaurant on Wyoming Avenue in Edwardsville for the past 30 years.
They came to the U.S. from Israel in 1981 and have lived in Kingston ever since. They have two adult children, Shirlee and Dan, and two grandchildren.
David is a former board member of both the Wilkes-Barre Jewish Federation and Temple B'nai B'rith, where he also served as treasurer.
If you would like to contribute, please make a check payable to the Dinners for Kids Program and mail the tax-deductible donation to: Commission on Economic Opportunity, 165 Amber Lane, P.O. Box 1127, Wilkes-Barre, PA 18703-1127
To volunteer for the program, call David Tevet at 570-262-7839
For more information, visit dinnersforkids.org