Students will be absent from cafeterias in Marietta and Cobb schools at the start of the academic year, but both public school districts will provide meals to children learning from home.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the school districts moved to start the school year online only. Marietta City Schools will start the new year remotely on Tuesday, Aug. 4, and Cobb County schools begin virtual classes on Monday, Aug. 17.

When the districts start their respective school years, Marietta schools will deliver daily lunches and snacks to distribution sites across the district, and Cobb schools will host weekly meal kit pickups on school grounds.

MARIETTA CITY SCHOOLS

“As we did during the spring school closure, MCS will provide meals through a bus route delivery process since we will begin the school year in an all-virtual format,” Marietta schools spokesperson Jen Brock said in an email to the MDJ.

MCS Director of School Nutrition Cindy Culver and the school nutrition staff will be involved in meal prep and distribution, Brock said. Distribution sites and delivery times, available on the MCS website at marietta-city.org/mealdelivery, are grouped by elementary school zones.

Starting Tuesday, the district will load lunches and snacks onto buses at Marietta Sixth Grade Academy, Marietta Middle School and Marietta High School every weekday at 9 a.m., then send those buses on 19 different routes to deliver meals across the district. Meal deliveries are scheduled to conclude by 12:45 p.m. each day.

Marietta delivery locations include apartment complexes, hotels, parks and other locations throughout the district. According to the delivery schedule, buses will spend between 10 and 35 minutes at each stop.

While MCS offered free meals during the spring and summer, families will pay the standard rates for meals this fall.

“Unlike the March-May spring closure and the Seamless Summer program, meals beginning on Aug. 4 will follow our standard fee structure,” Brock said. “Students will receive meals at their benefit status (free, reduced, or full pay), and all families who receive free or reduced meals need to reapply for this benefit or they will be charged the full price when the grace period expires on Sept. 14.”

Families can apply for the free and reduced pricing benefit online at https://mariettacity.strataapps.com/(S(0frpx5ugbd1gjt5tbm2bxczq))/default.aspx.

According to the MCS website, students must be present to receive a meal at distribution sites, and all family members must wear a mask when picking up lunches. MCS will deliver meals until the district returns to in-person learning.

COBB COUNTY SCHOOL DISTRICT

Once Cobb schools start remote classes on Aug. 17, families can pick up a weekly supply of meal kits for each enrolled student. The meal kits will include five breakfasts and five lunches that can be reheated at home, according to CCSD spokesperson Nan Kiel.

Most schools will host meal pickups on Mondays from 4-6 p.m., but specific times and dates will be listed on meal pre-order forms. CCSD is offering drive-through meal pickups rather than delivery “to limit exposure for everyone including Cobb Schools staff, volunteers, and community members,” according to the district website.

Families must pre-order meal kits on MyPaymentsPlus for the Monday pickups, and they can begin placing orders on Aug. 11. The order form will open each Tuesday, and families must submit their orders by Thursday at 12 p.m. to purchase meals for the following week.

Cobb schools will provide free and reduced-price meal kits to students who qualify. Families can apply for the benefits online at mealapps.cobbk12.org. The full-priced meal kits will cost $23.99 per week.

To pick up their meal kits, families must bring their order confirmation along with their student’s name and student ID number. CCSD students do not need to be present for family members to pick up meal kits.

In a letter released to the public Monday, Emily Hanlin, the executive director of Cobb County School District Food and Nutrition Services, addressed the meal distribution plan.

“As we begin the 2020-2021 school year with virtual learning we are excited to take the best practices we learned and apply them as we continue to offer meal kits with heat at home instructions so our students can enjoy a hot meal at home,” Hanlin said in the letter. “Our virtual feeding plan will implement innovative practices such as pre-ordering and family meals to-go.”

Hanlin said staffers are taking extra precautions to prepare meal kits in schools.

“We are modifying kitchens, enhancing cleaning and sanitizing schedules, requiring face coverings for all FNS employees, and commit to offering safe meal options to students,” Hanlin said. “Though things may look a little different, we want our students and parents to feel safe and trust the food that they eat is safe, healthy, and delicious.”

For more information about the Cobb schools meal distribution plan and how to pre-order meal kits, visit the district website at cobbcast.cobbk12.org/?p=34012&fbclid=IwAR0C-edKVzmoicFzR5onPIvW1kP7gt_nFRUMLrEdx0RHKR-Gs5KD1K_8RcM.

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