South Cobb parents and volunteers are pooling their resources to make sure students have enough to eat while schools are closed during the coronavirus pandemic.
The South Cobb Council of PTAs last week opened several drive-up sites in the area to distribute prepackaged meals to students and their parents. The Council is made up of PTA groups at schools that feed into Hillgrove, Pebblebrook, McEachern and South Cobb high schools.
Food distribution locations are H.O.P.E. Family Resource Center, Austell First United Methodist Church, Powder Springs First United Methodist Church, Tapp Middle School, Mableton Square across from the Elementary School, the Village at Six Flags Mobile Home Community and Kingsley Village Apartments, said Leroy Hutchins, president of the Council.
The Kingsley Village site is housed at the Thrive Resource Center and is coordinated by community activist Monica DeLancy. She also said the Center helps students with their homework.
The days when each site is open vary, but volunteers will distribute food for two hours. Details are listed online on the South Cobb Council’s Facebook page.
Hutchins said about 80 volunteers are helping pack meals. Each lunch meal contains a sandwich or prepackaged meal, a bag of chips, a snack item that could be a granola bar, cookie, fruit or a fruit cup and a juice box. As of Friday, the operation has served 4,148 meals.
“Even if it’s just lunch, it’s one meal that the parents won’t have to be responsible for,” Hutchins added.
Cobb schools closed March 16 until further notice due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The PTA locations are in addition to Cobb County School District’s eight sites where volunteers from MUST Ministries distribute a five-day supply of breakfast and lunches to students. Cobb school food service employees prepare the meals while volunteers distribute them to students and parents.
As of Tuesday, the Cobb school district said 10,880 breakfasts and 13,600 lunches have been served at the eight locations, said spokeswoman Nan Kiel. The last Monday meals will be provided by the Cobb school district is May 18; the school year ends May 20.
Hutchins said his PTA group is trying to partner with as many organizations as possible “so we can at least try to sustain this as long as we can because we are uncertain as to what’s going to happen.”
About 41 percent of the 113,000 students in Cobb schools qualify for the federal free and reduced-price lunches. The majority of those students attend schools in South Cobb, Hutchins said.
“We already knew what the need, as far as families having food insecurity, would be in our area,” he said.
Hutchins said the Council will continue providing meals to students until “we are advised to stop.”
The Rev. Roger Vest, pastor of Powder Springs First United Methodist Church, said his place of worship is distributing lunches and also collecting donations.
Volunteers at the church are wearing gloves and practicing social distancing guidelines while taking meals out to students and their families. The church has for the last five years participated in MUST Ministries’ Summer Lunch Program, so Vest said its decision to help amid the coronavirus pandemic was part of its philosophy to see no child go hungry.
“This just seemed natural for us to offer our facility for these types of efforts,” the reverend said. “This is not a Methodist thing. It’s a community thing.”
The South Cobb Council of PTAs is seeking donations to help feed children. You can donate by visiting https://southcobbcouncil.memberhub.store/.
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