Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools created a program in March to help students gain access to meals and bridge hardship gaps caused by remote schooling.
The program, called Food for Students, has continued into the fall as schools remain closed during the pandemic. It aims to efficiently provide nutritious meals to underprivileged children within the school district.
As of July, the program had distributed more than 400,000 meals to students in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro area.
Christine Cotton, co-founder of PORCH Communities in Chapel Hill, said meals from Food for Students are covered with financial support from the William R. Kenan Jr. Charitable Trust, the Public School Foundation and a child nutrition food waiver from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
She said while meals are covered, snacks are not covered under the USDA financial waiver, so Food for Students also relies on community fundraising.
"We fundraise to make it more fun," she said.
Cotton said Food for Students uses the fundraising money to add extra snacks like applesauce, granola bars and a blueberry muffin kit to make at home.
She said CHCCS passes out meals at 37 distribution sites with the help of the district's bus system and Child Nutrition Services.
Cotton said meals are prepared at Smith and McDougle middle schools and then are bused to the distribution locations for families and students to pick up their food. In accordance with safety regulations, everyone in attendance must wear a mask and be socially distant in lines.