Gainesville event provides free lunches to families in need during COVID-19 crisis

By Lauren Hunter Multimedia Journalist
Posted 5:00PM on Tuesday 17th March 2020 ( 1 week ago )

A group of over a dozen Gainesville and Hall County businesses came together on Tuesday to provide lunches for families in need as a result of school cancellations due to COVID-19.

Level Up in our Community took place at the Veterans of Foreign Wars location in Gainesville and worked like a drive-through restaurant. Families were able to drive up to the restaurant and tell a volunteer a head count for the number of lunches needed. The family could then pull around to the front of the VFW to collect their lunches without ever needing to leave their vehicle.

Restaurants including Sliced, Johnny’s BBQ and the Inn Between Deli provided enough food to feed approximately 450 people. Wizards Video Games donated comic books to accompany lunches for children while Carriage Kia and Xtreme Clean Auto Spa were offering coupons to the parents for car washes.

The event was staffed by over 40 volunteers from businesses like Level Up Haircuts in Gainesville and North Georgia Business RadioX. Several Gainesville Police Department officers also worked the event to help direct traffic and deliver lunches to families that could not drive.

To ensure that Level Up in our Community complied with all health regulations, Esteamed Solutions volunteered to clean the venue before, during and after the event. Each volunteer was also required to read FDA requirements before their shift and wear gloves the entire time. Every meal was prepared off-site at its respective restaurant and then delivered to the venue.

The idea for Level Up in our Community originated with a Facebook post from Angelica Tabor Fells, owner of Level Up Haircuts. Tabor Fells offered to purchase pizza during the week for families needing lunch to feed their children. Joy Whitmore, Studio Manager and Producer for North Georgia Business RadioX, saw the post and wanted to make it bigger.

From there the idea grew into an event with 17 businesses offering food, beverages and donations. Many private donors also contributed to Level Up in our Community.

“The momentum, the magnitude…we did not anticipate that much publicity and coverage,” said Tabor Fells. “But we only prayed for a turnout so we could feed the kids and the families.”

Whitlow said the donations and volunteers who contributed to the event show the dedication of the community.

“This is a community that I am very, very proud of,” said Whitlow. “We have a whole group of people here and they are basically family.”

Level Up in our Community kicked off at 11 a.m. on Tuesday and was expected to go on until all food donations run out.

A group of over 40 volunteers from 17 local businesses came together to provide free lunches for families in an event called Level Up in our Community.

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