Suwannee Valley Times is distributed into the following cities and towns: Lake City, Live Oak, Madison, Branford, Dowling Park, Falmouth, Lee, Wellborn, Jasper, White Springs, Fort White, High Springs and Alachua

Local Teenagers provide meals to shut-ins

Jennifer and Stephanie Chen deliver a meal to Lulu, of Live Oak. -Photo Submitted

 

By Tami Stevenson

Live Oak, Fla., – What started out as a summer venture has turned into an indefinite adventure in benevolent altruism and friendship.


Jennifer Chen, 16, along with her sister, Stephanie Chen, 15, grew up in a family-owned restaurant business in Live Oak. Jennifer would serve tables and basically help with whatever was needed at the time, whether it was in the kitchen or out with customers. Stephanie helped with whatever she could do, even the cash register.


They always enjoyed seeing the regular customers and had grown fond of the interaction with them. When the pandemic hit in 2020, they no longer saw many of their regular customers and missed them as some were elderly or disabled and afraid to leave their homes.


Jennifer and Stephanie attended Suwannee Schools during their earlier education, but have since moved to Jacksonville, where they attend school during the week and return home on weekends. They were talking one day about how much they missed the regular customers and formed the idea about taking meals to them on Saturdays.


They talked to their father and mother, Andy and Nina Chen, of Fusion Buffet in Live Oak. They liked the idea and were willing to donate the food, so, it began.


It has been so well received, since then, they have added others to their home delivery list and now deliver to fourteen families throughout the Live Oak and McAlpin area. They begin packing the meals around noon and are finished delivering around 4:30 p.m.


“The main reason we started this is because I wanted to see our regular customers.” Jennifer explained. “For example one of the people they deliver to is Lulu. Lulu was a regular at the restaurant but once the pandemic hit she was afraid to go out. “
She added, “It’s nice that I can see her every weekend now. I missed the exchange we had and now I can see her every weekend, especially since I moved to Jacksonville. To be able to come back in the community that I grew up in, (and help like this) is nice.”


The people are so appreciative Jennifer and Stephanie just don’t want to stop. So they have decided to make it indefinite. When they return home each weekend from school, their Saturdays are spent packing up meals and taking them to the disabled and elderly they have grown so fond of.


A woman named Monica called the Suwannee Valley Times and told us how grateful she was to Jennifer and Stephanie for delivering a meal to her mother every Saturday. Monica lives in another part of the state and said it gives her peace of mind knowing her mother is being visited with a meal on Saturdays.


Jennifer and Stephanie would like to let the readers know if there is anyone interested in helping them deliver meals, they would be so appreciative, because this is growing. They are only there on weekends now, but anyone interested in helping them deliver meals can stop in to Fusion Buffet and give their father, Andy, their information anytime.
Fusion Buffet is located at 6835 US HWY 129 in Live Oak, across the street from Walmart.

Ron, of Live Oak, with Jennifer and Stephanie Chen. -Photo Submitted

Luciendia and Leroy, of Live Oak, with Stephanie and Jennifer Chen -Photo: Submitted