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UNF Foundation, Inc.

Funding Elevates Meals on Wings

Lawrence “Laurie” DuBow believes that the best thing you can do for a young person is to help them attend college. That philosophy has motivated him to provide scholarships to UNF students for the past 30 years through the DuBow Family Foundation. 

smoot working in the lend-a-wing pantryHis family’s continued generosity has supported numerous other UNF initiatives, most recently providing funding for Meals on Wings, a food recovery program in UNF’s Center for Nutrition and Food Security. Since it began two years ago, the program has delivered nearly 17,000 meals to homebound seniors who are on the waiting list for Duval County’s Meals on Wheels. Student volunteers recover unused food from six area hospitals, repackage it into healthy meals and deliver nutrition and smiles directly to seniors’ homes.

Laurie and his son Michael said they chose to fund the project, in part, because it is innovative and fills an important need in the community. "We also felt the students' passion behind it, so we believe it will be successful," Michael said.

The donation has allowed the program to purchase a refrigerated van to improve the operation’s efficiency and ensure food safety. “We felt this would be a lasting gift,” Michael said. “It will help the students coming through the program to see the impact they are making and then when they go on in their careers, they will be inclined to give back in other ways. It’s unique because it’s a community service program embedded in a college. You couldn’t find a greater impact program than this one.” 

Dr. Lauri Wright, associate professor and director of UNF’s Doctorate in Clinical Nutrition program, is the founding director of the UNF Center for Nutrition and Food Security. In addition to the van, the donation has allowed Wright and the students to expand from assisting 25 to 100 seniors, with five meals a week. 

“We’re so appreciative that we could help meet the needs that the pandemic put on this vulnerable population,” Wright said. “It’s also given the students so much opportunity to apply classroom work and really see it come to life. The DuBow Family Foundation donation helped us do all that.” 

Yet Laurie DuBow would give his share of the credit to the student volunteers. While he will acknowledge that the donation was needed, he also will tell you that the money was the easy part. “The real work is being done by the students who are making a difference in these people’s lives,” Laurie said. “It’s the kind of education they can’t get in the classroom, and that’s important to me. They are the real heroes and should be getting all the credit. Without them, the money that we’ve given wouldn’t mean a thing.”