The Woodstock City Council approved a group of grants at its most recent meeting, helping local food pantries and schools.

As part of the money the city received through the CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security) Act, the city had set aside $40,000 for grants to help food pantries and $90,000 for local school assistance. Chief Financial Officer Ron Shelby said these two items were pulled from the rest of the agenda so the council could have additional discussion on them.

“We initially designed this to be grants for the four large food pantries that you have that serve Woodstock citizens,” Shelby said. “What the plan would be is to provide them, after they apply for the money, is to provide them with $10,000 grants in order to help them with some of the food needs that are going on right now with COVID-19.”

City Manager Jeff Moon said that, if the council chose to approve this, city staff was recommending this be done with the condition that the food pantries agree to use the grant money solely on food and product distribution, not on administrative costs or any other similar use. Shelby added the money would also need to be used within a specific time frame, the length of which the council could choose to set.

“The four we’re talking about are the food pantry at MUST Ministries, Never Alone Ministries on Rope Mill Road, Papa’s Pantry on Bells Ferry, and fourth one is the First Baptist Church food pantry,” Moon said.

Councilwoman Tracy Collins put forth a motion to approve the food pantry grant money, which was seconded by Councilman Brian Wolfe and passed with a 6-0 vote of the council.

In addition, the council took up a $90,000 grant for the schools that serve the children of Woodstock, helping the schools purchase Wi-Fi hotspots and the related data to help students complete their schoolwork when not on campus. Shelby and Moon said the city had initially looked at helping just three schools with this issue, but it was decided to open it up to more of the schools in the area that Woodstock children attend. At the same time, Moon said the levels at which this would be distributed among the schools would be up to the schools themselves and that the devices would be the schools’ to operate and maintain.

“I want to be clear, and this should be a contingency on the gift, we don’t want to be in the Wi-Fi device owning business because I don’t want to be maintaining them, so we’re going to make a donation to the schools for the purchase of these units and they will be combined with their fleet of units that they’re allowing students to check out. We’re augmenting and supplementing what they’re doing. We’re not trying to have our own program.” he added.

Councilman Rob Usher put forth a motion to approve the grant money for the schools to obtain this equipment with the contingency suggested by staff members included, which was seconded by Councilman David Potts and approved in a unanimous vote of the council.

“It’s good to see some CARES Act funding go to those who need it in our community,” Mayor Pro Tem Colin Ake said following the votes.

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