Sixty Chick-fil-A locations surrounding Atlanta donated the food and time to make thousands of lunches that were then sorted and delivered by MUST Ministries.
Chris Fields, senior vice president of programs and administration at MUST Ministries, said the summer lunch program has been around for 19 years. Groups of volunteers meet at churches in Bartow, Cherokee, Cobb, Forsyth, Gwinnett, north Fulton, Paulding and Pickens counties five days a week to make, pack and deliver lunches to nearly 6,000 children across eight counties for 10 weeks during the summer.
“Hunger doesn’t stop when school lets out,” Fields said. “This program makes sure that we know there are 6,000 kids who are going to have a meal on the table every day.”
Kaye Cagle, a spokeswoman for MUST Ministries, said businesses, families and senior assisted living homes frequently donate some meals and food to the program through local churches. This is the first time a business has agreed to donate meals to feed every child for a day as Chick-fil-A did Wednesday, she said.
“I think the most important part of the story is how many children are being fed every day,” Cagle said. “It’s a monumental undertaking.”
Chris Darley, who owns the East Lake Chick-fil-A on Roswell Road, said his restaurant donated 380 meals for volunteers at the First Presbyterian Church off Church Street near the Square to deliver on its three routes. Darley said each meal includes a Chick-fil-A chicken sandwich, chips and a cookie.
Darley said he thinks it is important for his business to support and serve the community it’s in, so he was excited to work with 60 other Chick-fil-A franchise owners to deliver the lunches.
“(The owners) wanted to do something together that we couldn’t do on our own,” Darley said.
Martie Moore, the coordinator for the lunch program at First Presbyterian Church, said every week day of the summer 13 volunteers gather at the church to make sandwiches for the children.
“The best thing has been getting to know all the volunteers and the volunteers getting to know each other,” Moore said. “It just kind of builds the community in our church and we also have volunteers from other churches.”
This is the seventh week of the 10-week program, and Fields said 158,000 meals have been delivered so far this summer in MUST’s coverage area. By the end of the program, Fields said 250,000 lunches will have been delivered across the area, and 100,000 will be delivered in Cobb.
Moore, who teaches art classes at Burruss Elementary School, said she enjoys seeing the children over the summer.
“They come in and sometimes they’re all dirty from playing outside all morning, and they’re so cute, and they say ‘thank you,’” Moore said. “This way, you don’t worry so much about them.”