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The original item was published from 5/15/2020 11:27:19 AM to 12/31/2020 8:05:02 PM.

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Posted on: May 15, 2020

[ARCHIVED] City turns meal program over to ECS

http://www.southeastsun.com/home/article_b762a912-9535-11ea-84e9-537093381618.html

May 13, 2020

By Michelle Mann mmann@southeastsun.com

Who exactly is responsible for the summer feeding program for children in the city of Enterprise became

the question after the state-mandated school shutdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The matter was settled during the Enterprise City Council meeting May 5 when the council unanimously

voted to turn the Summer Child Nutrition Program contract with the United States Department of

Agriculture over to the Enterprise City Schools.

The meal program, which has traditionally been administered by the city schools via a contract between

the city and the USDA, had started March 19 after a state-mandated school system shutdown that began

the day before.

Citing concern for staff involved with the food distribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, the school

system then discontinued the feeding program and the city did not have the resources to pick up the

program itself with limited notice and limited resources, Parks and Recreation Director Billy Powell

explained to the council at the April 21 work session.

The school system announced April 18 that the program would resume April 27 with distribution only on

Mondays and Wednesdays from five instead of nine pickup sites.

The food program re-launch drew criticism of city and school officials on social media about the apparent

lack of concern over the fact many of the children would not be able to access the designated distribution

sites.

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Council discussion at the work session April 21 with Powell, who has served as the liaison between the

city and the schools on the food program, ended with plans for Enterprise Mayor Bill Cooper, Council

President Perry Vickers, Councilwoman Sonya Rich and Powell to meet with school leadership about the

issue.

“I think a lot of the concerns and questions were answered during that meeting,” Powell said during the

council work session May 5. “I think we left it with a better understanding about the feeding program.”

After meeting with Enterprise City Schools Superintendent Greg Faught and ECS Child Nutrition Program

Director Julie Harmon, the city agreed for the Board of Education to directly contract with the Alabama

Department of Education to run the program.

A sixth food distribution site, Faith Community Church, was added and several citizen groups volunteered

to help distribute meals.

Powell said in the first two weeks of the program last month 11,575 meals were distributed. The next

week 8,850 meals were served. The week of May 4 14,560 meals were expected to be served, he said.

Rich said that the Coffee County Family Services Center has been named as a distribution site and they

had delivered meals to Johns Chapel AME, St. Beulah and Union Grove Church for distribution. “I’m happy

with that,” Rich said. “I’m happy with meals being added at those locations.”

Powell agreed. “This is reaching more kids than they started those first two weeks,” he said.

“Everything seems to be working so far, so good,” Rich said. “I was told the Johns Chapel site ran out of

lunches and they requested even more. I’m pleased with the addition of those sites. One of my concerns

was the children couldn’t easily access the original sites.”

Councilmen Eugene Goolsby and Turner Townsend thanked Rich for her input into finding a solution,

Coffee County Family Services Director Judy Crowley for her leadership and Hand

Up Enterprise for its help.

“With the information they presented to us we felt like they had the manpower and the equipment to do

it,” Rich said about the meeting with Faught and Harmon. “I think we’re on the same page as far as our

desire to feed as many children as can be fed.

“I also want to thank Coffee County Family Services and add that in other areas like Martin Trailer Court,

the housing authority and apartments in town the needs have been met,” Rich added. “We are quite

pleased with the way everybody has partnered with this to meet the same goal.”

The next meeting of the Enterprise City Council is May 19 at Enterprise City Hall. A work session begins at

5 p.m. A voting meeting begins at 6 p.m. Both meetings are available to view via the city’s website.

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