May 31, 2018
By KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT
Rutherford County Schools
Coordinating a weekend program that operates in conjunction with the Summer Feeding Program is a critical aspect of Debbie Mankin’s job as the ATLAS Assistant for Rutherford County Schools.
Mankin organized a dozen volunteers Thursday morning for what was called a “packing party.”
ATLAS — which stands for “Academic Time Leads to Achieving Students” — is Rutherford County Schools’ program for assisting students who are homeless or in transitional housing.
Mankin and ATLAS Liaison Kim Snell led the group as they assembled 220 bags for the first of the 10-week summer program. The bags are delivered on Thursday and distributed by cafeteria workers at each of the 11 sites.
“Our goal is to provide 20 bags every week to each site that has the summer feeding program,” said Snell, who estimated the weekly cost to provide the weekend service is $1,500.
Some of the food came from Cumberland Presbyterian, while a majority of it was purchased with a large financial donation from the Experience Community Church.
Weekend bags will be packaged and distributed by a variety of community volunteers.
These bags include two cereals, two hot meals that typically consist of pasta and a package of mac and cheese along with various snacks and other items to help feed students during the weekend.
Thursday’s volunteers included cafeteria workers and teachers from Barfield Elementary and Riverdale High School, Big Brothers and Big Sisters along with volunteers from churches and other organizations.
Next week, a group of teachers from Riverdale will pick up the bags and deliver them to the proper schools.
Churches and community groups have volunteered to handle the packing and delivery of weekend bags for the remaining nine weeks of the summer program, which was coordinated by Mankin as one part of her yearlong duties with the ATLAS program.
Rutherford County Schools offers multiple free summer food locations. For specific times and locations, read this PREVIOUS ARTICLE from Rutherford County Schools.
PHOTOS / KEITH RYAN CARTWRIGHT