Free meals for all county students

Susan Moore Elementary counselor Patti Gilliland hands off student meals Monday.

Susan Moore Elementary counselor Patti Gilliland hands off student meals Monday.

The Blount County School system launched its free meal program March 23 for all students 18 years and younger. Pick up locations are Appalachian High School, Locust Fork High School, Susan Moore High School, and Blountsville Elementary. A total of 691 students were given 2,764 meals on Monday.

This program works like the summer feeding program. Any student can receive meals at any of these locations. Students do not have to be eligible for free or reduced lunches to participate in the meal program nor do they have to attend a school in the Blount County system. Green said this program would continue until school is back in session.Anyone interested in volunteering can see a staff member at the feeding sites.

Meals are available at the above listed schools from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. The meals will be provided in a drive-thru operation, and students must be present in the car to receive meals. Meal packets include food for two breakfasts and two lunches.

In order to meet the USDA program requirements, personnel needed to deploy this project (employees and volunteers) were trained on Friday, March 20. Zip-top bags of any size are needed to package the meals. Donations can be dropped off during meal distribution at the four school locations, Locust Fork Baptist Church, Cross Roads Baptist Church, or Fortson Movers.

In addition to everyone who has donated zip-top bags, several community partners have generously donated to support the meals program. Walmart awarded a $500 grant to help provide gloves, masks, disinfectant, and bottled water, as well as other items that may be needed. Manager Patricia Littleton also provided bags for packaging meals. Oneonta City Schools donated fruits and vegetables to help with the meals and S&S Grocery in Cleveland also donated bags for packaging the meals.

Green thanks everyone for supporting the school system. He said, “We are so pleased to be able to begin providing meals for students through the meals program. We hope this will be a great help to parents as they deal with this difficult time. I appreciate everyone who has helped to make this possible either by donating zip-top bags or by helping prepare or serve meals.”

In an effort to minimize the spread of COVID-19, all Blount County schools were closed effective March 16 through April 3. Using the school board’s logo, there have been recent rumors circulating on Facebook that all Blount County Schools will be closed for the remainder of the school year. Green said this information is inaccurate. In a statement, Green said the Blount County Board of Education will continue to re-evaluate school decisions during the closure period and updates will be provided through call-outs and on the Board of Education website.

Green also encouraged parents to explore the educational resource link under the parent/student tab on their website, These links will provide students with supplemental materials and computer programs for practice and enrichment.

The board will continue to keep everyone updated and informed as much as possible. They are trying to make this situation run as smoothly as possible.

Reminder: ANY child, 18 and under, can receive a meal. It doesn’t matter where they live. They can visit any site to pick up a meal. The children must be present to receive the meal.