Amanda Burnette remembers going to food pantries with her mother when she was young—not as a volunteer, but to make sure her family had enough to eat.
“My mom worked two, sometimes three jobs to barely provide for us,” she said. “I grew up not knowing where my next meal was going to come from.”
Helping others facing the same challenge
Burnette, the co-owner of Insurance Specialists of GA (ISG) in McDonough, Georgia, has a more comfortable life today. But she knows there are plenty of families facing the same challenges she did as a child. That’s why she got involved with Operation Lunchbox in nearby Locust Grove.
Founded in 2014 by Dave Newman with his mom and brother, Operation Lunchbox was originally intended to provide relief after disasters—until a student pointed out that kids going hungry every day is devastating in its own right.
The mission pivoted immediately. “That very day, we fed 36 kids,” Newman said. “Today, we feed approximately 3,000 each week across nine counties.”
An agency effort
Burnette and ISG co-founder Tiffany Cooper have been working with Operation Lunchbox for more than two years now. They deliver food to families, the office is a donation drop-off location, and Burnette serves as secretary on the board. In addition, the agency sponsors fundraisers throughout the year.
“We love giving back to the community any way we can,” Burnette said. “ISG means more than our company—we like to say those letters also stand for ‘Integrity, Service, and Giving.’”
The giving hasn’t stopped during this health crisis, either, because the need continues to grow. “We work every day to secure more donations, and we’ve picked up two additional counties,” Newman said. “We’re also feeding students in our original counties who we have not served before.”
Because school is out, Burnette is hand-delivering bags of food to the homes of children who are struggling. She serves about 300 families a week this way—and that number has been steadily increasing, she said.
“ISG means more than our company—we like to say those letters also stand for ‘Integrity, Service, and Giving.’”
—Amanda Burnette, co-owner of Insurance Specialists of GA
‘We are advocates for these children’
Already a challenge even in normal times, childhood hunger is likely to be an even larger issue as the economic impact of this pandemic spreads. That’s why Operation Lunchbox focuses on community awareness as well. “We are advocates for these children,” Newman said. “We are the voice for those who don’t have control over their circumstances. This isn’t their fault.”
A 2020 Make More Happen Award will help increase awareness—and help feed more children, too. The award typically includes a donation of $5,000 and the opportunity to win another $5,000 through engagement on social media; however, in light of the current health and economic challenges across the country, Liberty Mutual and Safeco donated the full $10,000 immediately to Operation Lunchbox on behalf of Insurance Services of GA.
That amount can provide thousands of bags for students, Newman said, adding that the award is a testament to the dedication of ISG. “Amanda and Tiffany are a huge part of Operation Lunchbox, but more important, they play a key role in making our community better for all.”