Page initiated March 15, 2020

An archive of material shared with volunteers and the public about how Friendship Trays is adjusting its delivery and other operations to protect recipients, volunteers and the public during the 2020 coronovirus pandemic.

Forging ahead, despite uncertainties

July 17, 2020

Here we are, still in the throes of a pandemic and with ever increasing uncertainty about what lies ahead for our community and beyond.

The good news here at Friendship Trays is, we are forging ahead.

  • We are operating with still limited capacity, but continue to feed our most vulnerable clients.
  • We are continuing to gradually add back some of our recipients we were not serving earlier, as well as adding some new people who are in critical need.
  • We are very fortunate to have a corps of first responders helping us deliver and we have called a few volunteers back into service.
  • We are practicing very strict protocols to protect our recipients, our delivery drivers, and each other. All of our deliveries continue to be no-contact deliveries.
  • We are serving two reopened day care centers, one for children and one for adults.
    We are thankful to be able to serve the community.
  • Our food continues to be well-planned and of high quality. Special thanks to Lani Lawrence, Kelly Vass, and our core kitchen staff who work hard to keep it so!
  • We are thankful for Dirk Taylor with Performance Food Group, who manages our account professionally and with care and compassion for those we serve.
  • Special thanks to Kathy Nichols, who organizes the meals each day for delivery. She is one of a kind, a very special and dedicated volunteer!
  • A huge thanks to the gardens whose tenders bring fresh produce to incorporate into our meals. Jean Siers with The Society of St. Andrew enabled us recently to serve the delicious blueberry cobbler shown in the lower left corner of the picture.
  • Thanks to the special people who make cards, placemats, and heart-felt, handwritten wishes to share with our recipients. Our folks look forward to receiving these loving touches.

We are so very thankful for the financial support we continue to receive from across the community from individuals, foundations, corporations, houses of worship, and others who recognize the need for a service like ours. Many of these donors support us all the time, but their gifts are so incredibly important now. As I have continued to think and say, our recipients live lives that are always at a social distance.

What can you do to help get nutritious food to your neighbors most in need? Our shelf-stable supply stock can always use replenishing. The reason is that we continue to send canned goods, snacks, etc. to our recipients. Please see our Amazon “wish list” here.

Finally, a huge thank you to Muddy River Distillery of Belmont in Gaston County for the generous donation of hand sanitizer.

One more bit of good news from us here on Distribution Street:

We are developing a more defined and formal telephoning system to keep in touch with our recipients. Stay tuned! Plans are under way.


– Lucy Bush Carter, Executive Director

We need your help rebuilding during this pandemic

June 11, 2020

We are grateful for your support to serve those in our community in need of home-delivered meals. As we increase the number of recipients served during COVID-19, we are slowly adding a few volunteer drivers to support our operations. These volunteers are following strict safety procedures and we continue to make no-contact deliveries by leaving meals in coolers with no person-to-person contact. We are providing delivered meals to about 200 of our 500 regular recipients. Our goal is to increase the number served to 300. To reach these 300 individuals, we continue to need your support.

Our current Wish List item most in demand is rubber bands, found at this link. Your financial support would be gratefully received here.

We encourage you to order these items from Amazon or even Costco or Wal-Mart and have them shipped directly to us at 2401-A Distribution Street, Charlotte NC 28203.

Your financial support and donations of items on our wish list helps Friendship Trays as we continue to serve our neighbors in need of home-delivered meals.

Martha Cochrane, Volunteer Coordinator

Swimming in tuna: Where’s the Be… Chicken!!!

May 21, 2020

We are very thankful for the enthusiastic response to our request for shelf-stable items to have on hand to send to our recipients. We are in need of pop-top, canned chicken. We have plenty of tuna! You can click here to view our wish list.

Your financial support has been enthusiastic and we are grateful. Because of you, we are able to continue to operate, keep the lights on, and purchase the items we need to prepare meals. We were very fortunate to have received federal Paycheck Protection Program dollars to assist us as well.

We are providing healthy meals to about 200 of our 500 regular, home-meal recipients on a weekly basis. We stay in contact by phone with the people who have neighbors and family to support them and remain ready to step in if they need us. We are handling all of this with staff and remarkable CMPD officers through their Community Engagement Division (see link below). We could not have managed without these officers.

Our current goal is to reach 300 by gradually adding recipients as we are able. Soon we will be needing some volunteer support to assist with our no-contact pick-up-and-delivery process. And of course, our ultimate goal is to return to feeding all who need us. To return to our before-COVID-19 capacity safely will require some time to accomplish. Our recipients are among the most at risk in our community. We will do our part to keep them safe in their homes.
We need you.

We hope you can continue to support us financially, with shelf-stable food items, and with your commitment to caring for each other. Please call us with your questions. And stay home and stay well.

Lucy Bush Carter, Executive Director

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Click here to view WBTV’s May 19 report by Caroline Hicks about how police protocols have changed during the pandemic. Hicks filmed officers delivering Friendship Trays in their assigned area.

April 17, 2020

Many thanks for the outpouring of support for our mission as we all continue to navigate this very unfamiliar journey. Each weekday we are taking nutritious meals to our most vulnerable recipients, and making phone calls to all the rest of our recipients who have a family member or neighbor to help them during this time of strict quarantine.

The community support has been wonderful. In the second round of grants from the COVID-19 Response Fund, Friendship Trays was awarded a grant of $25,000, which will help us buy food. Support from individuals like you is also appreciated and needed, and if you cannot support us financially, your prayers are welcome too!

We would like to replenish our shelves with more shelf stable goods. With your generosity, we have sent out most of what we had collected, making sure our clients had some additional food on hand when they needed it.

Our Amazon Wish List and our list of most desired canned goods is accessible at:

We encourage you to order these items from Amazon or even Costco or Wal-Mart and have them shipped directly to us at 2401-A Distribution Street, Charlotte NC 28203. That keeps everyone safe!

Please call us with your questions. And stay home and stay well.

– Lucy Bush Carter, Executive Director

CMPD officers help deliver meals during pandemic

Fox Charlotte, April 8, 2020

April 2, 2020

Recipient profiles:

During a recent call, a recipient said, “Start back as soon as you can!” The reasons to return to full delivery service are all around us, but invisible behind closed doors.

Across town, another recipient commented about his longtime delivery person, “Miss April is real good to me.“ In the fog of memory loss, perhaps he had failed to notice that he had not seen “Miss April” recently. He did remember that he occasionally gets some junk food from the grocery store.

With volunteers off the roads and Friendship Trays deliveries cut back, the Mecklenburg County meals program is delivering frozen meals to some recipients to tide them over during this pandemic. But recipients, volunteers and staff all want the same thing: “Start back as soon as you can!” With your continued support, Friendship Trays will return to the door for these our neighbors.

– Lani Lawrence

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April 1, 2020

These lovely strawberry plants were left on our doorstep following a message from Mike Cox.

They will be planted in Little Sugar Creek garden.

Maybe they will provide some sweet COVID-19 relief later on.

– Lucy Bush Carter

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“Accompanied by a generous check!”
– Lucy Bush Carter

April 1, 2020

Recipient profiles:

One recipient said that just receiving a check-in call made her spirits feel special.

– Tammy Curry

Another resident has impaired vision, is diabetic, and has no close relatives who can help her. She wants to eat a proper diet, but the day before she was interviewed to receive Friendship Trays, she was desperate for food and felt she had to make an unhealthy choice: She ordered a pizza, because it was the only inexpensive thing that she thought she could get delivered

– David Blough

With your continued support, Friendship Trays will continue to be at the door for these our neighbors.

– – –

March 30, 2020

Recipient profile:

Our lifeline to some longstanding recipients right now is as thin as a telephone line. One such recipient lives alone. He told us earlier that he could make do without deliveries for awhile, but by Sunday he commented that he hates to call friends and bother them to bring him food. But we encouraged him to do so, for he needs nutritious food to sustain health. We encouraged him to call Friendship Trays if he needs to talk to someone.

– Lani Lawrence

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Friendship Trays’ Otis Hemphill on Friday stands next to one of the vans that is on the road every weekday making deliveries to some of the community’s most vulnerable residents.

March 28, 2020

The stay-at-home order that began in Mecklenburg Thursday morning will be in effect statewide by Monday at 5 p.m. From nearly every vantage point, it appears clear that the coronavirus battle has only just begun.

The Friendship Trays staff is helping to support more than 100 of our most vulnerable neighbors by delivering them the food they need to keep themselves healthy. Other nonprofits are carrying an even heavier load. Every one of them deserves your thoughts and prayers and financial support.

Friday brought great news that grants from Charlotte’s COVID-19 Response Fund will begin distribution of funds. We must all remember that these grants won’t address all the need. They are, however, a beginning. More info at the Observer and WFAE.

In the year Friendship Trays was founded, this day’s high temperature was 69, not the 87 predicted for today. Some things change. What has not changed is the community’s need to address human needs with empathy, fleet-footedness, and resolve. Thank you for finding ways to support the COVID-19 response, and supporting all who are working on the front lines of that effort.

– Lucy Bush Carter

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Recipient profile:

One recipient got added many moons ago just as soon as she called. She lives alone, and she called because she said she was having memory problems. Specifically, she said she couldn’t seem to remember to turn the stove off. She was afraid that she would burn her house down. And, of course, put herself at grave risk. With your continued support, Friendship Trays will continue to be at the door for her with the food she needs.

– Lani Lawrence

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March 27, 2020

Recipient profile:

One of our stops each weekday is in a remote area of Mecklenburg County. The resident living there has no famiiy. And there are also no neighbors around. The resident is 87. She depends on Friendship Trays for food. We are doing what we know you would want us to do. With your continued support, Friendship Trays will be at the door for her with the food she needs.

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March 25, 2020

Recipient profile:

We’ve been calling all recipients about their current situations. A recipient’s daughter reported that she would be staying with her mother now, to keep her fed and taken care of amid this pandemic. The daughter asked that we refocus on others who have no one to bring them food or look in on them. That number this week is about 120, our most at-risk clients. With your continued support, Friendship Trays will be at the door for them.

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March 24, 2020

Recipient profile:

In a neighborhood perhaps near yours, in a home like or unlike yours, there is a Friendship Trays recipient much like you. Only, he is 88, which puts him at risk during this coronavirus pandemic. And he has no family to help him. The only food he has is delivered to him by Friendship Trays. With your continued support, Friendship Trays will be at the door for him.

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Two officers and two Academy cadets from the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department helped deliver meals on Monday, March 23. Another crew will help deliver meals on Tuesday. Thanks to all!

March 23, 2020

Several notes to begin the week:

THERMOMETERS: To protect our mostly elderly and often chronically ill clients, we want to begin having all of our staff check their temperatures while at work. Half of our staff do not have oral thermometers they can bring to work. If you a new oral digital thermometer, either the under-tongue or forehead variety, please leave us a message at 704-333-9229 and we will be contact you about delivery.

FOOD COLLECTION: We have suspended for now our collections of shelf stable food. Please hold off on any more deliveries of canned or other goods. As conditions change we will update information on this website about how to deliver food donations, and what is needed at that time.

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March 20, 2020

For you, for all of us, it’s been a tough week. The first of many.

For us at Friendship Trays, the week brought a temporary end to use of volunteers because of health advisories. That was the right and necessary thing to do during this pandemic. But it led to lots of other changes, even as we redeployed our paid staff to cook, package and deliver all the meals.

We spent much of the rest of the week contacting all of our recipients and identifying their needs. Many have family who, for now, can provide food for them. Some can still get out to buy groceries. Many asked us to focus on their more infirm and vulnerable neighbors. And that is what we are doing.

The new week will begin Monday with roughly 120 recipients receiving meals. Deliveries may not be every day, but everyone will get food. And by Monday we may have emergency service and other public servants helping us make deliveries in the neighborhoods where their service work takes them.

As we have since 1976, we will make it work. Because you, and we, are dedicated to the mission.

The first part of the mission is “delivering nutritious meals to elderly or infirm individuals in the Charlotte community who are unable to obtain or prepare their own meals.”

The second part is for now embodied in the note below to volunteers. We’re asking them to call or write the people they have been delivering to – “providing human connection to the isolated and lonely and peace of mind to their families.”

What I would ask of you? Be patient with all of us serving the public good. Follow health advisories so this pandemic can be contained as quickly as possible. Donate to Friendship Trays and other nonprofits whose expenses will inevitably rise to meet this crisis. Help your neighbor. And when the kids are to bed and there is calm in the house and you are reviewing your day, think about what you might be able to do, after COVID-19 becomes a distant memory, to make our human community stronger and better prepared for the next challenge we face together.

– Lucy Bush Carter

Volunteer update:

If you have recently been driving a regular route, please call or write your recipients during this time.  We ask you do not visit them at their homes. But please continue to communicate with your recipients. A little bit of human contact will keep us all going through this difficult time.

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March 20, 2020

Staff have completed the first sort of recipieints’ needs. We are coordinating with Department of Social Services staff who manage the county’s frozen meals program. We are coordinating efforts to meet everyone’s needs.

Recipient profile:

She said over the phone that she did not want others worried about her during this pandemic. When she needed food, she said, she could drive herself to find some. Focus, she said, on the neighbors who cannot get out, and who have no family to come in, and who are hungry. We share her message because her attitude is one that will help us all get through this health crisis. And we will be at the door for her if her situation changes.

– Lani Lawrence

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March 19, 2020

Friendship Trays continues today to review the meal needs of every one of its recipients. This work, begun earlier this week by phone, should be complete today.

We anticipate that about 100 people whom we have been serving have no other source of daily meals. We are determined to meet their needs. We heard Wednesday from a number of emergency service groups that stand ready to assist us in getting food to the most vulnerable members of our community. We are grateful for such public support.

Meanwhile, as we wrote Wednesday, health advisories have forced us suspend cooking food in our kitchen; the kitchen layout, while very efficient, puts cooks in too-close quarters. We have some meals on hand, and anticipate receiving more frozen meals shortly. We are also accepting donations of nonperishable food items at our Distribution Street office. Using all these resources and perhaps others, we will find ways to meet the nutrition needs among our most vulnerable recipients.

We will continue to share information as our plans develop. We will also share how people throughout our community are responding. We are grateful to the recipients who have expressed concern for the health of our staff and volunteers who have brought them food. Perhaps in the small stories of how the people of our community are helping each other, the larger situation today, and the way forward into the future, will become clear.

Thank you for your understanding and support. We will continue to have phone or e-mail conversations with all our recipients. We all look forward to the day when nutritious food is once again being prepared in our kitchen and we can return to full delivery mode.

– – –

Recipient profile: She is of sound mind but challenged body. She’s at home alone. She gets around with a cane or walker. She says she’s tried to cook with one hand while holding on to her cane with the other hand. But she’s no longer stable enough on her feet to manage it. So she will need meals. With your continued support, Friendship Trays will be at the door for her.

– Lani Lawrence

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March 18, 2020, 2:30 p.m.

We regret that Friendship Trays has cancelled all deliveries to most recipients effective immediately. We have stopped cooking in our kitchen because the advisories for social distancing are impossible to meet in our facility. We cannot tell at this time when we will be able to resume regular service.

Friendship Trays staff members are calling all recipients to listen to their current situations. Most have some access to food. For those who have none, we will be responding as best we are able. An inventory of frozen meals may become available soon, and we will enlist others as appropriate to ensure that all who are in danger of malnutrition are served. After making initial contact with recipients, Friendship Trays staff will continue to stay in touch by phone.

As announced earlier, all volunteers have been asked to put their volunteering duties on hold. We will continue to receive nonperishable food item donations to assist with those who need services. Please deliver them to 2401A Distribution St.

We appreciate all of the community’s support of Friendship Trays during this health emergency.

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What makes Friendship Trays go? Here amid a pandemic comes an envelope with a check and this note:

“Please accept this check in honor of …. When asked what he wanted for his birthday, he said, ‘Send a check to Friendship Trays.’ He used to go with my husband and me when we delivered trays.”

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March 16, 2020, 9:10 a.m.

For the immediate future, effective Monday, March 16th Friendship Trays moved to a delivery model where staff members are primarily delivering our meal delivery routes.

We are asking all current volunteers to put their volunteering duties on hold and are currently not accepting new volunteers. We appreciate all of the community’s support and we will be in touch when we need volunteer drivers in the future.

Please continue to check our website ( and our phone message at 704-333-9229 for updates.

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March 15, 2020, 7 p.m.

For the duration of this coronavirus pandemic, Friendship Trays will be asking volunteers, recipients and staff to be flexible, careful and safe. Many of our routines are changing effective immediately. And what we do today may not apply tomorrow. Thanks to one and all for reading the material below, staying attentive, and helping our community through this health crisis.

To all volunteer drivers and kitchen volunteers:

– On any day, if you are ill, have a fever, feel fatigued or are having difficulty breathing, leave us a message at 704-333-9229 that you will not take your shift. Do not hesitate to call. We will be delighted to see you next time.

– The route you are accustomed to driving may change as we adjust our delivery system to maximize social distancing.

– In the kitchen, the routines for filling trays with food are being redesigned to respect the social distancing recommended by health authorities. Work groups from area businesses that have done so much in the past are being contacted. Most are being asked to suspend their visits until further notice. Friendship Trays staff will be contacting some individuals to assist kitchen staff.

– If you have had a regular driving assignment, please call in before coming. We may need to ask you to come another day as our routes are changing.

To all recipients:

– You may receive food for more than one day. The driver will explain. If you have questions, please call us at 704-333-9229.

– As our delivery capacity increases or decreases during this period, the number of days per week you receive meals may increase or decrease. You will get the regular amounts of food.

– We know that our driver may be the only person you see each day. But please understand if a driver does not stay to visit. The social distancing recommended by health authorities suggests minimizing contact and keeping about six feet of distance. This is for everyone’s protection.

To all:

We will do our best to keep everyone informed. We will be posting on this website and on Facebook, and sending e-mails regularly. If we do not have your e-mail address, you can send us a message through this website so we can add you to our communication list. Or you can call the office and leave a message at 704-333-9229 at any time.