Hundreds of parents across the Cobb County School District will have one less thing to worry about thanks to the Cobb County Police and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 13.
Combined in two separate check presentations, the Cobb County Police and the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 13 donated $10,000 to pay off the lunch debt for Cobb students who accrued debt before they were enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program.
The first $5,000 donation came from funds raised during the Cops and Kids golf tournament. They presented it to the Cobb Schools Food and Nutrition Department at Pebblebrook High School in November. Although the first donation helped cover the debt for students at about 40 Cobb schools, the police didn’t stop there. They wanted to cover the debt for students at all Cobb Schools.
They returned to Pebblebrook in December to present another $5,000 to the Cobb Schools lunch fund. A generous donation by Patak Meat Products in Austell helped make the additional gift possible.
About 1,500 students at Pebblebrook, alone, sit down to warm school lunches under the free and reduced lunch program. Overall, more than 40,000 students throughout Cobb Schools participate in the free and reduced lunch program.
“What we have found for the students who are on the free and reduced meals is that sometimes the two meals we offer—breakfast and lunch—are the only two meals they will get. So, hunger in this community is a real issue,” said Emily Hanlin, Cobb Schools Executive Director of Food and Nutrition Services. “A lot of parents will call and say, ‘I don’t have the funds to pay off the account. Now, we can tell those parents, ‘don’t worry about it. Don’t stress.’”
Students in the free and reduced lunch program sometimes accrue lunch debt before their application for the program is processed. Their parents must apply for the program every year. There also may be a few days of delay when students transfer in and out of Cobb Schools.
Cobb Schools Food and Nutrition Services provide instructions on how to apply for the program here.
“It is so wonderful to have partners in the community who really reach out and say, ‘what can we do to help kids?’ We have a heart for really taking care of kids and doing that through food. Having a partner in the community like the Cobb County police allows us to continue to do the thing that we are passionate about, which is feeding our kids,” Hanlin explained.
The Cobb Schools Food and Nutrition Services Department has poured more than 647,000 gallons of milk, and they serve up more than 85,500 lunches, and 20,000 breakfasts every day. They also have dished up more than 1 million pounds of fresh and local produce and continue to earn Golden Radish Awards for Farm to School Excellence.
From helping parents apply to the free and reduced lunch program and donating food to the local food pantries to offering Farm to Table options, the Cobb Schools Food and Nutrition Department lives up to their mission of nourishing the school community for student success.
“There are some districts in the United States and Georgia who limit how many times students can charge before they get things called alternate meals, we do not do that,” Hanlin explained. “We continue to give our kids hot meals so we can take care of them.”
During their visit to Pebblebrook High School, members of the Cobb County Police Department stayed for lunch to taste the choices that food court-like cafeteria offers.
In addition to the donations to the Cobb Schools lunch fund, Cobb County Police and the Fraternal Order of Police also provide for Cobb students in need in other ways during the year.
They provide supplies and backpacks through their back to school program, donate holiday food bags during Thanksgiving and Christmas, and give about 200 students in need an opportunity to shop with a cop to buy gifts for family members.
For more information on how to donate to the Cops and Kids programs visit https://www.foplodge13.org/.