Community engagement officers delivering food to local hotels for homeless families

Updated: Apr. 7, 2020 at 9:57 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Community engagement officers from the Mecklenburg County Sheriff’s Office have been spending a portion of their weekdays delivering meals to local hotels.

The new routine is part of a plan to make sure students are continuing to be fed while schools are closed.

The team of officers met at the Days Inn hotel on E. Woodlawn Avenue in southwest Charlotte Tuesday. Led by Captain Rod McDouglad, the officers carried boxes of bagged lunches into the hotel lobby.

“The total meals on average that we serve is roughly 500 breakfast and lunch meals daily,” McDougald told WBTV in an interview.

The captain explained that the community engagement team has been servicing hotels because that is where many homeless families are staying.

McDougald explained that those families sometimes have trouble picking up the meals that are being provided by Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools during the pandemic.

Sherman Pride, one of the engagement officers, spoke about the importance of making sure CMS students are still getting the meals that they are normally provided at school.

“A lot of these kids will not get food if they’re not at school, so providing these meals is a big help for them and their parents,” said Pride.

Shana Webber, one of the other engagement officers, said it is heartwarming to help the children.

“You just never know people and their family’s circumstances until something like this happens,” said Webber about the pandemic.

As the officers walked into the Days Inn Tuesday, they were greeted by Jaquasia Johnson, the hotel manager. Johnson said she has seen firsthand the struggle some families are dealing with.

“These are five and six-year-olds. They don’t understand ‘mommy and daddy’s hours are cut, there’s no money coming in.’ They have to eat. They’re not used to anything else. They’re used to going to school and getting that meal. They didn’t associate, ‘no school, no lunch’,” said Johnson.

McDougald said the community engagement team spends several hours a day delivering meals to hotels. He said the team travels to five different parts of the county and stops at 16 to 20 different hotels.

Because of the pandemic, the officers have been wearing protective gloves and masks during their drop-offs.

“It’s a rewarding feeling knowing that in spite of what we’re dealing with with the pandemic, that the kids are receiving the meals that they normally would receive,” said McDougald.

He said the meals are provided by CMS. The captain said that by the end of the week, his team will have delivered 7900 meals since March 19. He said they plan to continue delivering food to the hotels as long as kids are not in school.

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