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Cherokee High School Principal Todd Miller takes bags of meals from the school’s lunchroom out to the receiving line of vehicles Monday.

The Cherokee County School District announced Tuesday it will be expanding its school closure to-go student meals program to include additional sites and to extend to the systems spring break.

During the current school closures, CCSD School Nutrition is providing students in need with to-go bags of a week’s worth of breakfasts and lunches. These meals are being distributed on Mondays at school and community sites to every child present aged infant to 18. The first distribution, held Monday, provided meals to 2,300 students.

In addition to the already-scheduled distribution event on March 23, meals will also be distributed on March 30 and April 6. Along with the 10 school sites and four community sites already being used for distribution, students will be able to pick up meals at Creekview High School and River Ridge High School beginning with the March 23 distribution. Children can pick up meals at whichever school is closest to their home, and a full schedule of stations and pick-up times can be found at bit.ly/CCSDserves.

Superintendent Dr. Brian V. Hightower said, although the school system will not earn federal funding reimbursement for the additional sites or for feeding students during spring break, it is the right thing to do.

“We are committed to making sure our students do not experience hunger, and we know our community will join us in this effort,” Hightower said in a prepared statement. “We already have received financial donations to support the program, and we are making it even easier for neighbors to donate by now accepting credit card payments online.”

Cherokee County School District anticipates it will receive some reimbursement from the USDA for the cost of these meals, which is $26.25 per child, per week. Currently, the cost to distribute the to-go bags is being covered by USDA funds for the system’s summer meals program. Additionally, the USDA reimbursement would not cover meals distributed during spring break or for distribution at schools that do not meet specific demographic requirements, which is where community donations will also cover the gaps.

The school system will continue to accept financial donations for the program by check, mailed in using the online form at bit.ly/CCSDdonate (school staff signatures are not required), but donations now can be made instantly using a credit card at the website bit.ly/CCSDgiveonline.

“We greatly appreciate every donation we have received so far, as do our students who would otherwise go hungry,” Hightower said. “If any money remains in this fund when we return to regular school operations, those monies will be used to pay off unpaid meal charges students can’t afford to pay off, in keeping with the original purpose of this ‘angel fund.’”

The school system cannot accept donations of food or use volunteers to help with the distribution of to-go meals. Cherokee County School District partners, including MUST Ministries (www.mustministries.org) and First Baptist Church of Woodstock (www.fbcw.org) do need donations of food and household goods to distribute to families in the community in need.

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