Gwinnett County government is planning to step in to pick up where Gwinnett County Public Schools’ meal service will leave off when it ends this weekend, making sure kids continue to have access to meals during the COVID-19 novel coronavirus pandemic.
The county government and school system are working together to transition from the meal service program that the district has run for the last two months to the county’s expanded Summer Meals program. The school system’s program ends Friday. The county’s Summer Meals program will begin the following Monday.
“It is the common goal of the Board of the Commissioners and the Board of Education to assist families and make sure children receive nutritious meals during this challenging time,” Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash said. “For some kids, this may be the only meal they get that day. The Board of Commissioners especially want to recognize the school board’s efforts to feed children during the digital learning days just ending and the work they will do when their meals program picks up again in June.”
The Summer Meals program is sponsored by the nonprofit group, Georgia Nutritional Services Inc., and is part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Summer Food Service Program. Georgia Nutritional Services will provide the vendor for the meals, county officials said.
The school system’s meal program that has been in place since March included 67 school locations as well as delivery by school buses in identified school clusters.
Gwinnett County government will expand its Summer Meals program, which is starting its second year, to help fill the voice by adding additional locations.
Parents and children will be able to pick up meals for the kids to eat from 18 parks located around the county through the Summer Meals program. By comparison, the county used only three parks for the program last year, when 10,200 meals were served to area children through the program.
The county’s Summer Meals program is designed to compliment at summertime meals program that the school district offers, and officials said meals will also be available to adults who have disabilities. The school system’s Seamless Summer feeding program for kids is expected to ramp up in a few weeks, with county government officials saying it will be in place from June 8-26 at locations that have not yet been finalized.
One difference between last year and this year is that, in 2019, children ate meals they got through the Summer Meals program on-site, but the USDA is now letting them take the meals home to eat because of the social distancing guidelines in place because of the pandemic.
County officials said the parks where meals will be available were chosen based on school clusters where at least half of the student population qualifies for free-and-reduced lunches.
The meals are designed to meet USDA guidelines and includes food items such as sandwiches and wraps. The USDA provides funding for the program.
“This partnership between the school district and the county is a shining example of how Gwinnett County comes together to serve our community,” Gwinnett County Public Schools Superintendent J. Alvin Wilbanks said. “Working together, we will be able to bridge the gap and provide food to children while school is not in session over the summer.”
County officials said parents and kids can pick up meals while supplies last between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m., and registration is not required. Additional information about the program is available by visiting www.GwinnettSummerMeals.com or calling 770-822-8840.
The Summer Meals locations include:
Pinckneyville Park, 4650 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Berkeley Lake
Shorty Howell Park, 2750 Pleasant Hill Road, Duluth
Club Drive Park, 3330 Club Drive, Lawrenceville
Freeman’s Mill Park, 1401 Alcovy Road, Lawrenceville
Lawrenceville Female Seminary, 455 South Perry Street, Lawrenceville
Rhodes Jordan Park, 100 East Crogan Street, Lawrenceville
Sweet Water Park, 800 Bethesda School Road, Lawrenceville
Bryson Park, 5075 Lawrenceville Highway, Lilburn
Lilburn Activity Building, 788 Hillcrest Road, Lilburn
Vines Park, 3500 Oak Grove Road, Loganville
Best Friend Park, 6224 Jimmy Carter Boulevard, Norcross
Cemetery Field, 211 Cemetery Street, Norcross
Graves Park, 1540 Graves Road, Norcross
Lucky Shoals Park, 4651 Britt Road, Norcross
Lenora Park, 4515 Lenora Church Road, Snellville
OneStop Centerville, 3025 Bethany Church Road, Snellville
DeShong Park, 2859 North DeShong Road, Stone Mountain
Yellow River Park, 3232 Juhan Road, Stone Mountain