This 7-year-old's Virtual Lemonade Stand Raised Enough Money to Feed 600 Families for a Week
Morgan Marsh-McGlone's virtual lemonade stand will be highlighted during an inaugural special for President-elect Joe Biden. (Photo © Andy Manis)

Her goal was $90, but donors and a non-profit restaurant have helped her raise $53,000.

An 8-year-old girl from Wisconsin, whose lemonade stand to feed the hungry was featured in Up North News in May, will be honored at President-elect Joe Biden’s televised inaugural event Wednesday night.

Chef Dave Heide confirmed earlier that Morgan Marsh-McGlone, who has raised more than $50,000 to feed families facing food insecurity, will be featured in a one-minute video interview during the televised event hosted by Tom Hanks. She’ll be interviewed by Chef Jose Andres of World Central Kitchen, a charity that organizes chefs to feed the hungry.

“It’s so great,’’ says Heide, “My favorite actor is introducing my favorite chef who will interview my favorite little girl.”

Morgan will be featured during the “Celebrating America” capstone of the program, which features everyday Americans who stepped up for their communities during the pandemic. Thanks to Morgan’s fundraising last spring, Heide’s not-for-profit Little John’s Kitchens cooked 30,000 meals for children who are in the Dane County Head Start program and their families.

Little John’s uses food excess from grocery stores to train military veterans in the culinary trades. Right now they’re cooking out of Heide’s shuttered Lilianna’s restaurant, which is open only for takeout, and are cooking 1,600 meals a week distributed through the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County. They’re currently fundraising for $6 million to retrofit a commercial building into a commissary and headquarters for the charity.

In anticipation of national attention from the inaugural, Heide says that a Madison web design firm Swink created a new fundraising page called Morgan’s Lemonaid. The premise remains the same: a $5 glass of lemonade buys a meal for two people, a $20 pitcher buys a meal for eight. And when the COVID pandemic is finally over, Morgan is promising a lemonade and cookie party (with puppy petting) for all the donors.

In an effort to raise money for families with food insecurities, Morgan Marsh-McGlone, 7, created virtual coupons for lemonade for people who donate to her charity. (Photo © Andy Manis)

Morgan, who is now in second grade in Madison, originally wanted to do a real lemonade stand last spring to help families facing food insecurity, her mom Megan McGlone, told Up North News. But COVID upended those plans, so she went with a virtual lemonade stand, instead.

Her original goal was $90, but thanks to matching donations from the Oregon Community Bank and others, she’s raised about $53,000, with plans to keep going. 

So far she’s been interviewed on local television in Madison, Access Hollywood, NPR and others. 

Heide hopes the inaugural special will lead to more attention for Morgan.

Restaurant owner and chef Dave Heide sautees mushrooms. Heide uses his kitchen to make and deliver food for families with food insecurities during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo © Andy Manis)

“We’d love to have her on a national speaking tour,’’ Heide says. “Couldn’t you just see her on ‘The Ellen (DeGeneres) Show?’”

Heide’s Little John’s Kitchens, meanwhile, continues to stay busy with other endeavors, including the preparation of 2,500 free meals to celebrate Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day on Monday. 

Originally a traditional dinner gathering, the event was switched to a mobile pick-up operation in light of the pandemic. Then, the distribution site—originally on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard near the state Capitol—had to be moved to the Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County Allied Family Center in Fitchburg due to concerns about pro-Trump disturbances which had been rumored at all 50 state capitols.

“With the protests (planned) we were worried about the safety of our volunteers,” Heide said. “We did not want to dilute the beauty of that day with any hatred.”

Organizers were designing the pick-up site so that people picking up their meals, paid for by donors, could watch Dr. King on a huge screen and hear his speech on their car radios.