Gwinnett’s New Lunch Program

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Gwinnett County is now offering meals free of charge from schools for the youth in the community. These meals are available Monday through Friday, and are being distributed due to the needs in the county.

At the beginning of September, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) passed a waiver that allowed school districts to offer free meals through the end of this year. Gwinnett took this opportunity to offer free meals not only to students in their schools but also to children in the community who are eighteen or younger. Students who are in school get their lunch in school, while kids who are online can pick it up at a selected school. Students can go to their selected school to pick up that day’s lunch and the next day’s breakfast, from 11 a.m to 1 p.m. Gwinnett is ensuring that no child in the community goes hungry during these unprecedented times, and that food should not be a concern for families. 

“I think this program is very beneficial, first because it’s free, and it levels the playing field for all children. There is no student who is paying, while the other is getting it for free which means equality,” says an assistant principal Mrs. Tharp. In the past, certain students have gotten reduced lunch due to their financial needs. While other students paid full price for their meals. 

During this pandemic, in May the unemployment rate in the US was 13%. This percentage was the era’s second-highest, with a 14% unemployment rate in April. There is a large number of people in our county in need. Their needs can range from putting food on the table or paying their cell phone bills. This program is occurring due to the high amount of necessities and ensuring that food should not be a concern. “I guess I have noticed a change from the families since this program. I guess at the beginning people didn’t feel comfortable but know they are more comfortable and more grateful,” says Mrs. Tharp

During digital learning this year, Gwinnett served 2.6 million meals just from March to May. Last school year, they served 8.7 million breakfasts and 17.7 million lunches. “I feel as long as we have the virus this program needs to continue,” says Mrs. Tharp.

This program not only impacts the families and students but the teachers as well. The students are impacted by ensuring they don’t have to worry about where their next meal is coming from.Teachers are also impacted by having students who are more alert and ready to learn by having proper nutrition to begin their day.

There has never been another time in history when Gwinnett County Schools has provided free meals to all children in the community. By doing this, it brings relief to the families in need and great nutrition for students to succeed.