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Food for Students Celebrates Million Meals Milestone

Superintendent and Mayor

At Smith Middle School (SMS) on February 17, the skies were a brilliant blue for the long-anticipated celebration of Food for Students’ Million Meals milestone. Eleven months ago, the program, formerly established as Food for the Summer, managed an extraordinarily swift and efficient adaptation and transition to a weekday emergency feeding organization for CHCCS children.

The event was not only a celebration of nearly a year’s worth of hard work, detailed planning and fundraising, but it served as an important way to thank the many people who have shown up day after day to keep Food for Students running -- employees from Child Nutrition, Transportation and the many volunteers who have directly distributed those million meals.

bus driver at Million Meals By 11:00, cars lined up in front of the school, and a team from CHCCS and the Public School Foundation, along with Superintendent Dr. Nyah Hamlett and Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger, held up Thank You signs, handed out masks, and waved the cars to the pickup point where employees loaded bags of food, a whole turkey and Chick-Fil-A sandwiches into each car. Balloons bounced in the breeze, and it truly seemed like a pandemic-modified party.

At the end of the event, a special thank you was offered to Christine Cotton, Special Programs Manager, who has helped to shepherd the multi-department and community group from Day One.

Cotton said, “Reaching the One Million Meal milestone was the perfect opportunity to celebrate the people who have worked so hard since March 16th. It took a strong team to get to this point, and the CHCCS team is beyond compare. All Child Nutrition and Transportation associates continue to give it their all, every day, with a smile on their faces. The community volunteers continue to step up and help wherever they are needed  - sometimes on very short notice. The Public School Foundation continues to raise funds to fill any gap and keep the program strong.”

“The system that we built in March has been tested, changed and reinvented, and fortunately the community has stayed with us along the way,” Cotton said. “It is because of this amazing teamwork, our students continue to receive delicious meals and friendly smiles - one million of them!”

In honor of all the leaders of the Food for Students, the young news reporter and Ephesus Elementary student, John, and his father, Thomas Wortman, have created a special Million Meals video, as well as a special February 19 episode of "John News."

So listen up, and enjoy the voices from those who have allowed this extraordinary operation to keep rolling.