SYLACAUGA -- Classes have been effectively dismissed until at least April 6, but Sylacauga City Schools continues to provide lunch and breakfast for students in need of sustenance.
With the help of various volunteers, Kelley Wasserman, communication director for the school system who works with the Child Nutrition Program, distributes meals via a Curb Side Grab & Go Breakfast and Lunch’ initiative.
“We want the families to drive up to the curb,” she said. “They tell us how many children are in the family. Of course, a child needs to be with them.
“We will hand them a lunch for today and a breakfast for in the morning.”
Wasserman said the lunch meals contain deli sandwiches or subs with turkey or ham; fruit; a vegetable; and milk. The breakfast contains either a cereal bar or a cereal pouch with either yogurt or string cheese, fruit and milk.
“It’s a complete, nourishing meal -- both of them are,” she said.
The program has three pickup locations: Nichols-Lawson Middle School, Pinecrest Elementary School and the Verlie Collins Community Center. The pickup locations are open from 11 a.m. to noon Monday-Friday for youngsters 18 and under.
Wasserman added volunteers are driving a school bus throughout the community to distribute meals.
“We have child nutrition employees as well as volunteers,” Wasserman said. “There are anywhere from three to five people at each of these sites. That way, we’re able to work within the guidelines to make sure we don’t have more than 10 people congregating in one location.
“We’re getting volunteers from teachers and school employees as well as Church of the Highlands. They stepped up and were a big help to us today (Wednesday).”
Feedback from the community has been positive, according to Wasserman.
“I had a phone call from a grandparent on Monday calling to thank us for doing this because this grandparent is raising grandchildren,” Wasserman said. “The school closure caught her, as it did many people, sort of off-guard and a little unprepared.
“A lot of them don’t have the means to provide for a house full of children all day long. This grandparent expressed her appreciation that we were doing this.
“The parents that drive by at the curbside pickup and the ones we’ve met at the bus stops have all been very appreciative.
“And it’s a good way, too, for our teachers to stay connected with the families. We can make sure everything’s going OK with them and (see) if there are any resources that the families need to help their children continue with some learning during the school closure.”
Wasserman said the program has averaged more than 300 students served per day since it was first implemented March 18. Sylacauga’s school system has roughly 2,100 students.
“Obviously, there is a need, for this many children and parents to keep coming out day-after-day to pick up these meals,” she said. “It’s just rewarding to see the way the child nutrition staff has stepped up.
“This is our spring break, and we’ve given up our time to work and make this happen. The teachers have given up their time. It’s just rewarding to see the education community come together to meet this need for our students and our families … It’s definitely a need we are able to fill.”