Three weeks before the summer began, the school board told staff members at the Boys and Girls Club of the Emerald Coast that they would not be able to serve lunch to the youth club members for the first time in five years.
“With a brand new facility, a record number of youth registered and a motivated and highly trained staff, it seemed nothing could dampen our spirits this summer,” said Andi Ratliff, Public Relations and Events Coordinator for the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Emerald Coast. Then the staff was told of the school board’s decision, and she said the mood changed rapidly.
“Many of our kids depend upon free lunches during the school year, and they need the same assistance when school is out for the summer. We made calls to the state and other food programs, but it was too late to do anything about it.”Some of the club members arrived each morning with no lunch or only a pack of crackers to sustain them for a day. One club member did not have lunch for a week. Desperate to help, staff members began purchasing food items and making lunches for the club members. This lasted for weeks until Morgan Stanley, a “superhero” in Ratliff’s words, stepped in to help.
Morgan Stanley, a HandsOn Network supporter, began providing hot meals for the children. Morgan Stanley launched the "Million Meal Summer" program to combat the growing number of children who lose access to nutritious meals during the summer. Approximately 34,000 children attend the more than 200 clubs participating in the program, meaning that by the end of the summer an expected 1.4 million meals will be served to children who might otherwise go without the subsidized meals they get from school.
Employees play a critical role in this program by volunteering at feeding projects at local clubs, financially supporting programs in their local communities, and attending at-work learning sessions on the issues of hunger and health in the United States. More than 300 employees have signed up for projects this summer, over 400 have attended or watched webcasts of special lunch-and-learn educational sessions, and employees have personally contributed almost $15,000 to the campaign.
Additionally, through the donation of an estimated 600 hours at more than 50 projects, employees are taking hands-on opportunities to interact directly with the participating children. Morgan Stanley offered a series of signature team-volunteering events at Boys and Girls clubs in cities across the country during July and August. Groups of four to 50 Morgan Stanley volunteers participated in activities such as preparing and serving meals, assisting at healthy food fairs, hosting carnival games and fitness activities, and educating youth on nutrition.
“Our members not only benefit from having a good meal - for many this is the only complete meal they receive each day- but they also see living examples of what a difference it can make when you give back to others,” Ratliff said. “Morgan Stanley was an essential part of empowering our kids this summer.”
Morgan Stanley provided $5 million to help the Boys and Girls Clubs maintain and grow feeding initiatives in communities where rising needs threatened program continuation. The firm also engaged Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian to create and distribute educational materials for participating children and their parents. The program has brought a sense of awareness to employees regarding the surprising levels of food insecurity and hunger in the United States, while also giving them a hands-on way to respond to this issue.
For more information about this and other projects made possible by the HandsOn Network, please visit: www.HandsOnNetwork.org