173,000 meals provided by YMCA, Chartwells and UofM partnership for Shelby County students during crisis

April 28, 2020 - The YMCA, Chartwells and University of Memphis partnership has provided 173,000 meals for Shelby County students during the COVID-19 public health emergency. As many as 10,000 meals have been packaged each day since March 25.

Chartwells is the dining services partner for the UofM. The University Center dining hall is being used to make and compile the meals before distribution by the YMCA.

“The partnership between the YMCA, University of Memphis and Chartwells Higher Education has provided 173,000 meals, so far, to families in need,” said Glendel Coble, resident district manager for Chartwells. “We would like to thank UofM Executive VP and Chief Financial Officer Raaj Kurapati for connecting us with the YMCA and initiating what has become a great partnership.

 “Without the support of Raaj and UofM President M. David Rudd, we would not have been given this opportunity to serve our great community. I also want to thank all of our team members and the YMCA staff for their tireless efforts daily. I am so proud of everyone involved and honored to be part of such a great team and community family.”

The initiative started with a March 24 call from Brian McLaughlin, chief operating officer of YMCA Memphis, which is funding the project and distributing the meals.

 “We received a call asking if we could produce 4,000 meals for pickup at 6 a.m. the next morning,” said Coble. “We picked the food up from our provider at 4:30 p.m. and began immediately. We packed the last box lunches at 2:30 a.m. on March 25. Although it was a very long day of work, the team was excited to help our community. In these trying times, to be able to give back and be a part of helping others is a wonderful thing.”

The Chartwells team of 25 associates is averaging 8,000 meals per day, and has produced as many as 10,000. Production time varies based on volume, but it takes about 9.5 hours to package 10,000 meals. The boxes include ham and cheese or turkey and cheese sandwiches with juice, fruit and chips. Breakfast meals may be added in the near future.

 “We are proud, grateful and excited to assist our community and to serve those in need,” Coble said. “Chartwells and the University of Memphis have a great working partnership. To represent two top-level organizations, helping those in need, is one of the proudest moments in my career.”

“I am so proud of our partnership with the YMCA and Chartwells,” said Rudd. “Everyone stepped up at a moment’s notice and has done a remarkable job serving not only our students, but the families of Shelby County during this challenging time. It is remarkable that we are going to eclipse the 200,000 mark soon.”

“The Memphis community is strong,” said Shelby County Schools Superintendent Dr. Joris M. Ray. “We are extremely grateful for our partners at the YMCA, University of Memphis and Chartwells who have come together to help feed Shelby County Schools students. Our goal to eliminate hunger for children during this unprecedented crisis has been met with a tremendous response which is affirmation that WE ARE 901.”

During the crisis, Chartwells is continuing to serve UofM students, faculty and staff seven days a week. 

 “We know that many students need to remain on campus to complete their online courses,” Coble said. “Many would have nowhere else to go. We are thankful we can be here to feed them and provide nutritional meals daily.

“This is the most challenging time we have faced as a country. The positive attitude of the team and willingness to continue to serve our community is very rewarding.”