Feb. 12—For the first time in about 15 years, children in the Midtown area will have to find a new place for lunch assistance during the summer.
Sheila Gilbert has been running Food for Kids since 2006, but now she has moved back to Texas for family matters. She was not planning for the sudden shift, but it became a necessity after her mother suffered a stroke in November.
The recent change will leave a gap in meal options for children in need, which Gilbert is hopeful can be filled.
"I have been praying to the Lord that he would send someone out there because when I started, I did not know I was going to do it," she said. "There are some people who are capable, but I'm not sure they're interested, so I'm just hoping that someone will pick up where we left off, and that would be excellent."
Gilbert said she made one final trip around St. Joseph last week, taking the opportunity to thank her constituents and deliver some additional food to a few of the regular visitors she happened to see.
At its peak, the organization was serving 150 meals every weekday from when school ended in May until it began again each August, Gilbert said. Numbers decreased during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Gilbert still was consistently providing 100 meals a day, she said.
"Hungry doesn't have a color or face, you never know who's hungry," she said. "You have a lot of children, parents work but they don't cook. So when a child comes home and there's nothing cooked, the first thing they say is 'Nothing's here to eat.' But when you have a sack lunch already prepared, it's easy for them to get the nutrition that they need."
Gilbert plans to continue her philanthropic work after moving back to Houston, and she hopes that someone will purchase the Food for Kids property on South 19th Street between Messanie and Angelique streets.
"The kids will know that you're out there and they're going to come," she said. "So the hungry is there. The thing is, are the willing workers?"
Gilbert encourages anyone interested to contact her at 713-514-2843 or to call Berkshire-Hathaway at 757-270-0946 for information on the property.
Alex Simone can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at @NPNOWSimone.