Ensuring the children of the county remain fed after school closures, the Cherokee County School District School Nutrition staff have distributed more than 32,000 to-go bags of food each week through the #CCSDserves program.

Since March 16, the nutrition staff have provided food at a number of distribution sites to children in need.

“When our schools are open, our teachers see the effects hunger has on their students — if a child is hungry, he or she won’t be healthy, happy and able to do his or her best. We knew that we had to find a way to keep our students in need fed while our schools were closed,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Hightower said.

As of Monday, #CCSDserves provided 32,345 to-go bags containing a weeks worth of breakfasts and lunches for a child, according to CCSD Chief Communications Officer Barbara Jacoby.

“I’ve been with them on the front lines each week, and you can tell from the parents’ faces, when you hand them a bag, how much this help means to them,” Hightower said.

The various school and community sites are open to all families within the county, and #CCSDserves distributes to-go bags to CCSD students living at the Cherokee County Family Violence Center, Angel House and Goshen Valley Boys Ranch.

“The school board and I are so appreciative of our School Nutrition workers and Director Tina Farmer and school administrators for stepping up as essential workers during this crisis,” Hightower said.

More than $163,500 has been donated by the community to support the program, according to Jacoby.

“We’re also incredibly grateful and humbled by the community’s support — from the corporate gifts to the teachers holding fundraisers to the moms forwarding their children’s lunch money — every dollar helps feed a child,” Hightower said.

The funding covers all costs not reimbursed by the USDA; should any donated funds remain when the program ends, those monies will be used to pay off any unpaid student meal charges.

“For several years we have accepted donations by check and by student account balance transfer (“pay it forward”) to help pay off unpaid student meal accounts,” Jacoby said. “To help support #CCSDserves, we expanded these options to also include the choice to make a donation online by credit card.”

During this time, CCSD cannot accept donations of food or use volunteers to help with the distribution. However, CCSD Partners MUST Ministries and First Baptist Church of Woodstock are accepting donations of food and household goods to families in need.

In light of COVID-19, families cannot stay at the distribution sites to follow social distancing guidelines and people are asked to not come to a site if they are ill.

“Our School Nutrition staff always follow food safety precautions,” Jacoby said. “Since the distribution program began [they] have adopted continuous enhancements such as social distancing, temperature checks and wearing face masks, in keeping with guidance from public health officials.”

From June 1 to July 20, the #CCSDserves schedule and locations will change slightly for summer break and there will not be distributions on Memorial Day, May 25. For a full list of school and community site addresses and times, visit cherokeek12.net.

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