FOOD BOXES provided by Second Harvest Food Bank and distributed by Grady County School System personnel Thursday did not last long. The demand greatly surpassed the supply. Among the school system personnel working the event are, l-r, Assistant School Superintendent Janet Walden, Cairo High School College and Career Academy CEO Todd Gainous, Washington Middle School Principal Michael Best (placing food box in a car), W.M.S. parapro Zach Gibson (back to camera), Cairo High School Principal Chris Lokey, and Grady County School Superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard.
On Tuesday, the Grady County School System distributed another 7,260 meals to local children bringing the total of breakfasts and lunches distributed since March 17 to 55,432.
No meals were distributed last week due to spring break for Grady County Schools, but the system partnered with Second Harvest Food Bank to distribute 350 boxes filled with staples for needy residents last Thursday.
Unfortunately, the demand exceeded the supply. According to Grady County school superintendent Dr. Kermit Gilliard, people began arriving at Cairo High School shortly after 8:30 a.m. last Thursday even though the distribution was not advertised to begin until 10 a.m.
A traffic jam quickly developed with cars stretching from the school’s gymnasium, around Syrupmaker Drive, around the track out back to Fifth Street S.E. Fifth Street was clogged with motorists attempting to turn onto Syrupmaker Drive to line up for the food giveaway.
By 10:15 a.m., all 350 boxes of food had been distributed, leaving many disappointed.
The school system’s breakfast and lunch program restarted Tuesday, but the program has been scaled back to the seven public schools and no remote locations.
This move troubled Dr. Gilliard who said he is concerned that at three of the remote locations there were children who came for food who may not be able to get to one of the schools.
“We will continue to monitor this,” he said.
Dr. Gilliard said the school nutrition program is attempting to identify a vendor who can supply totally prepackaged meals, which would greatly reduce the staff time of school nutrition workers, who come in the day prior and the day of distribution to prepare meals.
On Tuesday, each child received two breakfasts and two lunches. According to Gilliard, if totally prepackaged meals are available, the system may shift to a once-a-week distribution of 10 meals per child per week on a single day.
Board member Jeff Worsham asked if the system would continue to provide food to those who need it through the summer. Gilliard said the current program is not unlike what is typically done each summer.
On Tuesday night, the superintendent approached the board about the possibility of rewarding the school nutrition personnel and bus drivers who have assisted with the distribution of nearly 60,000 meals over the last several weeks.
“We can never pay them what they actually deserve, but we want them to know we appreciate what they are doing and have done,” said board chairwoman Teresa Gee Hardy.
The board chairwoman asked for Gilliard and finance officer Dan Broome to put forward a recommendation to the board. Hardy suggested the board could approve it verbally and ratify it at the next meeting so that the compensation could be included in the employees’ next paycheck rather than waiting another month.
In other business Tuesday night, the board:
‰Authorized the execution of the memorandum of understanding with the Archway Partnership for 2020-2021 on the recommendation of Dr. Gilliard. The school system supports the partnership with a $10,000 appropriation annually.
‰Accepted the resignations of Adam Swan – assistant band director at Cairo High School and Jenny West – guidance counselor at C.H.S.
‰Accepted the bid of Howard Technologies for technology equipment to be purchased with Erate funding from the federal government. Howard’s bid was $178,335.
‰Nominated Chairwoman Hardy as the voting delegate and Vice Chairman Derrick Majors as alternate for the upcoming Georgia School Boards Association Delegate Assembly, which will be held virtually in June.
‰Approved payment of accounts payable totaling $695,851.87 on the recommendation of finance officer Broome.