The Cobb County School District is teaming up with a local charity to ensure that students learning from home amid the coronavirus outbreak won’t go hungry this school year.
Each student can receive a five-day supply of breakfast and lunches at eight school locations each Monday beginning March 23, the school district said in a statement released Thursday.
Meals can be picked up from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. each Monday until the last day of school. The last Monday meals will be provided is May 18; the school year ends May 20.
Cobb schools closed their doors March 16 due to the threat of the coronavirus. Meal pickup locations are:
•Acworth Elementary, 4220 Cantrell Road, Acworth
•Bryant Elementary, 6800 Factory Shoals Road, Mableton
•Campbell High, 5265 Ward Street, Smyrna
•Compton Elementary, 3450 New Macland Road, Powder Springs
•East Cobb Middle, 825 Terrell Mill Road, Marietta
•Garrett Middle, 5235 Austell-Powder Springs Road, Austell
•Osborne High, 2451 Favor Road, Marietta
•Riverside Intermediate, 285 South Gordon Road, Mableton
The Cobb school district said more than half of the student population at these schools are enrolled in the federal Free and Reduced Lunch program.
The new school locations will replace the 29 sites where MUST Ministries volunteers were providing food boxes to students.
Cobb County Schools Superintendent Chris Ragsdale said federal guidelines say students have to be under the age of 18 and be at one of the locations to receive food. For example, parents won’t be able to show up with one child, but leave the other two at home and be allowed to collect food for all three children, he said.
“I think that this going to be a tremendous improvement,” Ragsdale said. “Again, we are being very cognizant of the fact that we do need to address these families, but we do need to do it in a sustainable fashion.”
Breakfast will consist of a grain option, fruit, juice and milk, school district spokeswoman Nan Kiel said. For lunch, students will be fed a sandwich, vegetables, fruit, juice and milk. Cobb school district food service staff will make the food and volunteers with MUST Ministries will distribute it to students curbside.
Cobb school board chairman Brad Wheeler said he’s proud that the school district is looking for ways to better serve students.
“Our educators care about the whole child and know the best way for a child to succeed is when their basic needs are met,” he said. “We appreciate that we have such a supportive and caring partner as MUST to help us meet the needs of our students.”
Cobb County schools’ announcement was released around the same time school counselors emailed school board members to say they didn’t believe the food boxes distributed at 29 sites by MUST Ministries volunteers were enough to address the need in the community.
According to the email written by several counselors, one MUST food distribution site serving families from two schools only received 30 boxes of non-perishable food items.
The food was “gone within five minutes,” the counselors’ letter reads. “We had families from all over Cobb County. We sadly had to turn them away to seek out additional help/resources elsewhere.”
The counselors said the district’s announcement “gives us hope” that the school system will continue helping less fortunate families.
MUST Ministries is seeking volunteers to help by donating food or to help with the distribution effort. You can sign up as a volunteer by visiting its website.
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