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Flint, MI — When the news of schools closing to fight the spread of the coronavirus hit Michigan, Flint business owner and mentor, Deria Brown said she was up all night thinking about how some Flint-area children would eat.
“It kept me up all night when Gov. Whitmer reasonably so, did that,” Brown said. “How are the children going to eat? But not only that, how are they going to have a little bit of fun and retain information?”
Brown jumped into action with a solution. She would hand out free lunch and activity books to kids at her downtown Flint store, Glam Boutique. On Monday, March 16, 2020, she along with volunteers fed nearly 60 people including youth at a local Boys & Girls Club.
“We have good people that are serving our community through this crisis,” Brown said. “This continues to show the strength and resolution in Flint.”
Her initiative to help Flint kids was met with community support as local businesses and people stepped up to volunteer, gave cash donations and in-kind donations of food including the team at downtown Flint’s business hub, The Ferris Wheel.
The building’s general manager, Heather Kale, said her staff and members felt compelled to help.
“When I talked to my team they were all in,” said Kale. “Whatever we can do to help ease the burden on Flint residents, we will do.” Volunteers worked at The Ferris Wheel to prepare sandwiches and pack bags for up to 100 youths before the 11:30 a.m. giveaway on Monday and manned the sidewalk handing bags to cars as they came through.
The movement to make sure Flint kids have access to lunch will continue as Brown works out plans to hit neighborhoods in Flint by setting up in different communities including apartment complexes and community center parking lots. She and her team are working out the logistics and plan to make daily announcements letting residents know where they can find a meal for their children. The downtown team will continue their efforts in the 600 block of Saginaw Street just in front of Glam Boutique at 620 Saginaw St.
“We will take it to the community if we have to,” Brown said. “I just want to make sure that the children are taken care of. So, if we have to do mobile we will. We are here to fill gaps.”
Brown’s initiative hit social media before Flint Community Schools announced plans to feed students during the shutdown. One of her donations came from the Flint School Board.
“Now that speaks community,” Brown said. “While they were figuring out things on their end, they still supported what I’m doing for the community.”
FCS did announce that they will execute the USDA “Summer Feeding” program model to distribute breakfast and lunch to FCS students. The district has identified 24 sites throughout the city to reach students.
So far, Brown said she has enough to feed children until the end of the week but she plans to continue her work through April 3.
To donate, volunteer or get more information, contact Brown at (810) 344-4489 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.