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These local efforts are helping kids get fed during spring break
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Joy Whitlow gathers lunches for visitors Monday, April 6, 2020, at the American Legion as Level Up Haircuts in Gainesville teams up with Level Up Communities Inc. and North Georgia Business Radio X to give away meals to students on spring break. - photo by Scott Rogers

Ever since Hall County and Gainesville school systems switched to online classes, many local children who depended on schools for their meals have been getting those meals delivered  to their homes. Those meals aren’t being provided during spring break, but communities have responded to help get food where it is needed most. 

Some of that support has come from local businesses. 

Angelica Tabor-Fells, owner of Level Up Haircuts in Gainesville, has teamed up with Level Up Communities Inc. and North Georgia Business Radio X to give away 3,000 meals this week to affected students. 

Meals can be picked up starting at 11 a.m. each day through Thursday, April 9, at the American Legion at 2343 Riverside Drive in Gainesville

“It’s highly important that these parents get out here and get their kids fed for free,” Tabor-Fells said. “Even if you have a little bit of groceries in the house, this will help you for another day to be able to feed your kids.”

Tabor-Fells said the meals are being provided in a drive-through setting so no one will have to leave their cars. All workers at the event will be wearing masks and gloves.

The event is the most ambitious yet for Tabor-Fells, who has already given away over 2,000 meals at similar undertakings over the past two weeks. 

“When we were unexpectedly hit with COVID-19, a lot of parents were laid off,” Tabor-Fells said. “Those are the same parents that depend on the school system to feed these kids. So that’s where the idea originated. I just wanted to bridge the gaps.”

Collaboration has been key in organizing the meal donations, and Tabor-Fells has seen plenty of response from the community. 

The meals have been provided by a variety of locally owned restaurants, including contributions from 12 different Subway chains, Burger King, Circle K, Dairy Queen, Mellow Mushroom, In Between Deli, Atlas Pizza and J&J Foods. American Legion volunteered free use of its facility.

Other efforts are happening across the county to help children get fed.

Faculty members at Chestatee Academy have taken matters into their own hands. 

In a movement that began with one sixth grade teacher providing a pizza for a family in need, the school has raised hundreds of dollars worth of gift cards to local restaurants that have been disbursed to families reliant on school lunches.

The impromptu fundraiser serves the dual purpose of feeding students with struggling families and supporting local restaurants that have lost business.

“I’m very blessed to work with a faculty that have such a giving spirit,” said Chestatee Academy principal Jennifer Kogod. “...This is an opportunity during spring break for us to help the entire community, our struggling families or families in our community that want to give, and also it will support our local businesses.”

Both Kogod and Tabor-Fells have received an outpouring of thanks from those benefiting from the free meals, as parents already dealing with the economic strains brought along by an international pandemic have one less worry. 

Tabor-Fells said these kinds of community collaborations are “almost like a requirement” during times of crisis to make sure no hungry children fall through the cracks.

“It’s highly important for our community to come together and continue to work together instead of staying in our individual mindsets,” she said.

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