TIFTON — Grills were fired up and the smell of hamburgers filled the air at Puckett Park on Thursday, July 2, but it wasn’t for a cookout.
People from the community got together to feed local kids for the week while the school system’s summer feeding program was on hiatus for the week of July 4.
Grills and tables were set up at Community Mortuary on Central Ave and Puckett Park to grill hamburgers and hotdogs and package them up with sides and snacks before being delivered to local neighborhoods.
Organizer Priscilla Prince said they wanted to make sure kids were still able to eat.
Prince, who was part of 2012 feeding program, said that she always has her finger on the pulse of the community and saw that there was a need.
“Our kids still need to eat,” she said. “We want to let the kids know someone loves them. We want to touch them spiritually and emotionally and show them there's a bigger world than Tifton.”
She said she could really tell that kids were hungry on Tuesday when they started giving out the lunches.
“We couldn’t hear any kids playing in the streets,” she said. “After that, we could hear playing.”
Travis Williams, another organizer, lives in Atlanta these days but grew up in Tifton and still has family here.
“It's a collaborative effort,” he said, indicating the set up and the vans, lent to the group by Peanut Butter and Jesus. “We’re just trying to fill the gap.”
Williams said that the feeding efforts wouldn’t have been successful if not for the Peanut Butter and Jesus vans. Peanut Butter and Jesus has been feeding kids in the community for more than a year now, and their distinctive lime green vans playing music can be heard blocks away.
“The kids know those vans mean food,” he said.
Prince and Williams said that most of the food items were donated from local businesses. What the group didn’t get through donations they purchased using monetary donations from Tift County High School alumni, allowing the group to feed more than 1,000 kids on Tuesday and Thursday and give them extra food for the next morning.
“The giving has been phenomenal,” Prince said.
Moons Pharmacy, Shady Lane, Jimmy Johns, Zaxbys, McDonalds, 41 and Main and Curtis Packing donated supplies, according to Prince.
“We want to thank everybody,” Williams said. “What’s most important is when you see these kids coming up and getting food and being able to serve the community.”