As a child's brain is developing, food is crucial to the process. Not having the proper food and nutrients can affect many things including a child's mood, academic performance, ability to concentrate, and physical health. We want our students to succeed and live a happy, healthy life. Food security and nutrition can play a big part in this and we aim to make sure our students have all the tools they need to succeed whether they're learning in the classroom or their own homes. Thanks to the community and Kurt Lee Wheeler, we're able to work towards having the resources needed to feed our students. 

Several of our award-winning schools around the county are considered Title I schools, meaning 50% of the students attending school there are eligible for free or reduced lunch because the earnings for their households are at or below the poverty threshold. These meals are subsidized by the Department of Agriculture on a Federal level. Meals for those students (almost 4,000 of them per week) continued even when schools had to close their doors to protect our children from the spread of the virus, but the Federal funding was not made available during the week we were calendared to be closed for spring break. 

Our Superintendent and elected School Board members made the decision to continue to provide meals to these children because they believed supporting them was the right thing to do. Without Federal dollars, they sought funding and support from our community to help cover the $100,000 expense. Each Monday, those students are served 4 breakfasts and 5 lunches to sustain them for the week. Since schools closed for virus protection, more than 14,000 meals continued to be distributed across 12 school sites, and partner locations. The cost to feed a student for the week is $26.25. The call for help went out, and Cherokee County did not disappoint as several clubs and businesses stepped up, and even individuals participated. 

On Thursday, April 9th, Kurt Lee Wheeler, a local musician and teacher at Ace Academy went live on Facebook and played music for all who wanted to listen, while asking for donations to benefit CCSD's free and reduced meal service. Mr. Wheeler played crowd favorites from Brown Eyed Girl and Tupelo Honey to Tennessee Whiskey and Sittin' on the Dock of the Bay. Between songs, Kurt discussed the issues our students are facing that have been amplified because of COVID-19.

From this awesome live stream, we raised $20,972 and had more than 3,000 viewers!

If you didn't have the opportunity to watch the live stream and would like to check out Kurt Lee Wheeler's set, click here! Don't forget – it's not too late to get involved and support our students. If you feel so inclined, you can click here to donate money for school meals. 

We would like to take a moment to give our sincerest gratitude to Kurt Lee Wheeler for leading this fundraiser for our students. You have certainly used your talents for good and we could not be more grateful for your willingness to jump in and serve your community.

For those that would like to learn more about Kurt Lee Wheeler you can find him on his website, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or become a fan on ReverbNation! Give him a follow and enjoy his tunes!