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Contributed photo by Flint Chaney / The Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga delivers 1,850 meals a day to East Lake and Highland Park in partnership with Hamilton County Department of Education.

Since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, the Boys & Girls Club of Chattanooga has partnered with Hamilton County Schools to deliver breakfast and lunch each day to kids in East Lake and Highland Park.

On Friday, the organization delivered its 100,000th meal, along with distributing 1,000 cloth face masks from the Chattanooga mayor's office and 1,000 bottles of hand sanitizer donated by the United Way of Greater Chattanooga.

Hamilton County Department of Education supplies the food, which the club delivers to about 925 people — 1,850 meals a day — mostly to students living in the East Lake and Highland Park neighborhoods of Chattanooga with a connection to the club.

When the program began, families had to go to their children's school to receive food. Then the school district had buses drive to neighborhood bus stops to deliver the food.

"For a lot of mothers that have three kids, it was impossible," said James Morgan, CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga, of getting to the bus stops.

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Staff photo by Emily Crisman / Steve Bearden and Jessica Brackett of Hamilton County Department of Education transport food to be delivered by Boys & Girls Clubs of Chattanooga to the East Lake and Highland Park neighborhoods.

So in these two neighborhoods, which are considered food deserts where there's little fresh food available nearby, the club helps deliver the food directly to homes where they know the students live.

The mask and hand sanitizer distribution comes after a survey the club conducted with 125 respondents, with about 80% reporting they have no personal protective equipment.

"What we realized with the whole virus thing is that nobody is wearing a mask," said Morgan.

The mayor's office donated an additional 35,000 masks to the Chattanooga Housing Authority, mainly because of the Boys & Girls club survey, he said.

The organization, which is funded by the United Way of Greater Chattanooga, plans to continue delivering food in Highland Park and East Lake at least through the end of July, Morgan said.

Contact Emily Crisman at ecrisman@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6508.

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