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Mercedes-Benz USA is donating 7,000 meals and 9 vans to Atlanta organizations

With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic wreaking havoc on the local economy, Mercedes-Benz USA is brightening a dark time for some metro Atlanta charities.

The Sandy Springs-based division of the Stuttgart, Germany-based luxury automobile maker is donating 7,000 meals (1,000 each week through the end of May) through a partnership with PAWkids to residents of underserved areas on Atlanta’s west side.

It’s also giving nine Sprinter vans to Atlanta Public Schools, Open Hand Atlanta and Second Helpings Atlanta, helping them complete thousands of food deliveries throughout the city. These relief efforts are part of Curbside Caring, an initiative of the company’s Greatness Lives Here community outreach program in Atlanta that focuses on the west side since that’s where Mercedes-Benz Stadium is located.

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It’s also launched Thankful Thursdays, an initiative offering Sandy Springs firefighters and police officers catered lunches from a different local restaurant each week throughout April.

With most of MBUSA’s employees working from home, the company started converting its kitchen to one that could deliver meals to those charities, said Christian Treiber, its vice president for customer service.

“We are part of the community here,” he said. “We moved here from New Jersey in 2015, and we committed to really being a part of the community. It means also helping. Again, under the umbrella of Greatness Lives Here, we have a few other initiatives, but this Curbside Caring is what we do today and what we do in the context of COVID-19 as well.”

Kat Reynolds, MBUSA’s community relations specialist, said the program is a way for the company to give back to the city.

“Now, being in this very unique situation and during the COVID-19 crisis,” she said, “we believe empowering the next generation means ensuring everyone has safe, healthy access to food to make sure that we’re all healthy moving forward so we can go back to the new normal eventually.”

PAWkids is a west side nonprofit whose mission is “to demonstrate Christian principles through providing community support and developmental activities which uphold moral excellence and build self-confidence,” according to its website.

Open Hand Atlanta is a nonprofit that provides home-delivered, health-promoting meals as well as nutrition education to Atlantans living with, or disabled by, chronic diseases, as well as homebound senior citizens and at-risk youth and families.

Second Helpings Atlanta is a Sandy Springs-based nonprofit that picks up surplus food from some businesses and delivers it to those in need to help reduce waste and drive out hunger. It got three Sprinter vans and 500 meals a week from MBUSA, a game-changer at a time when more residents need meals.

“It means so much to us. … These three vans allow us to do more,” Executive Director Andrea Jaron said. “… The number of our partner agencies that need food (includes) so many more people because of the pandemic. There are so many people who are out of work, so the need for meals has gone up significantly. We are working every day to find more opportunities for the food, and we need to get the food to the partner agencies to serve it. The vans make that 100% better for us. We can do more if we have more.”

The pandemic has forced Second Helpings to switch delivery operations from a volunteer-driven model to a truck-driven one, she said.

Before, Second Helpings had only one vehicle, a refrigerated truck with about 500,000 miles on it, Jaron said. But between MBUSA’s donation and Goldberg’s Fine Foods temporarily loaning vehicles and drivers to add two routes with two trucks per day, it is making a huge difference.

I’m a Father F1rst is an Atlanta-based organization whose mission is to get more men as mentors in homes with children, especially those with single mothers whose fathers are absent, in prison or dead. It is a vendor for Atlanta Public Schools’ Meals of Love campaign, which serves schools in the Washington and Douglass high school clusters on the west side. The charity, which delivers items such as diapers and appliances to those who need them, received three Sprinter vans.

“It’s absolutely a blessing, and it’s absolutely amazing being able to get this partnership and these Sprinters so we can deliver more food and more resources to the people we’re trying to serve,” co-founder Jermaine Clarke said.


This article originally appeared in Northside Neighbor on April 17, 2020.