Along with the start of a new school year comes the resumption of our “Curbside Pick Up” program at United Inner City Services, an initiative to make sure every student family gets the basics that they need to stay healthy and thriving. “We began our Curbside Pick Up program back in late March in order to meet the needs of our families and serve them weekly during the pandemic,” shares Rhonda Nolen, Director of Family & Community Engagement at UICS. “This is an effort to fill a gap families are having at this time. We have to make sure every child has what they realistically need for at-home learning success.” 

With the help of a few generous partners throughout the city including Jewish Family Services (JFS), Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) and Pete’s Garden, families are able to receive food, cleaning, and craft supplies to fit their individual needs. Parents and caregivers work with their Family Advocates to determine their specific needs and prepare for their pick up box, based on family size. From fresh fruits and vegetables to household toiletries and cleaning supplies, UICS families are assured to have their needs met during a time when stability is hard to come by for many. Additionally, since the first weeks of the stay-at-home order in Kansas City, the Ewing Marion Kauffman School and American Dining Creations joined together to provide a five-day, 10-meal/healthy beverage box to UICS students and any family member under 18. These, along with UICS’ meal investments with families (each including recipes for child/parent collaboration), have provided thousands of meals in the past five months.  Deliveries were made to student family homes that experienced transportation issues throughout the city’s stay-at-home order and during the two-month UICS facility closure. As those needs are shared, UICS staff continues to assist those families.

UICS partner Pete’s Garden also includes an engaging handout in every pick up box. It shares creative ways to get the whole family involved in preparing and sharing a meal together through interactive recipe ideas and sometimes inspiring silly dinner table topics to spur conversation. In addition to healthy foods and everyday necessities, UICS Art Coordinators are working to fill another gap that families participating in virtual and hybrid learning may face: a lack of creative materials. Individualized kits come complete with colorful and sensory-friendly supplies for weekly Zoom “Stay, Play, & Learn sessions to further engage students and families. They may not be able to be in our centers but can still connect with us from home.

More than 45 families were able to be served through Curbside Pick Up this week between all three UICS Centers. This program will continue monthly to support as many families as possible during the pandemic. If you are a UICS family member and have questions about UICS Curbside Pick Up, please contact your school Family Advocate. If you are interested in supporting our food/essentials distributions, please contact Rhonda Nolen (rhonda.nolen@uicskc.org).