While summer brings a needed break from the classroom, there’s a vital part of the school’s schedule that shouldn’t be missed: the mid-day meal.
That was the concern of Carol Hunt, a teacher who, in 1995, asked to provide sack lunches for her impoverished students. She promised to deliver the meals all summer, 25 each day. Today, she’s still making deliveries, with help from thousands of volunteers.
Last year in Cherokee, MUST Ministries arranged for 40,047 meals to be delivered to the county’s students. Children in six counties—Cherokee, Cobb, Douglas, Gwinnett, North Fulton and Paulding—consumed 141,893 lunches. While MUST Ministries only has offices in Cherokee and Cobb, the long-range plan has the nonprofit helping with summer lunches, education and employment needs in other metro Atlanta counties.
Paul Buckner, Cherokee’s summer lunch coordinator, estimates 1,200-1,500 lunches will be distributed daily in our county. His work began in April, rounding up commitments from churches and organizations to make lunch pledges. Groups ranging from Boy and Girl Scout troops to Rotary Clubs pitch in to help, as well as youth groups and Sunday school classes.
Gathering to make the lunches is “a wonderful team-building experience,” said Buckner. Most of the donations are complete lunches, but contributions of lunch meat, sandwich bags and chips also are welcome.
The county has three distribution sites: Mountain View United Methodist, and . Volunteers pick up the lunches at one of these locations and drive predetermined routes to hand out the meals. On Fridays, children can choose a book as well.
Each lunch sack contains a sandwich, salty and sweet snacks and a juice box. Monday’s sandwich is peanut butter and jelly, Tuesday is ham and cheese, Wednesday is bologna and cheese, Thursday is ham and Friday is turkey and cheese.
Editor's note: A version of this story previously appeared in the June edition of The Cherokee Vine, a monthly newsletter that highlights news and events from churches, ministries and charitable organizations in Cherokee County.