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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy staff and volunteers move the supplies to the buses. CGLA established Mustang Express to ease some of the burden caused by the COVID-19 crisis by suppling students and their families with meals and household supplies. The first run of the express left CGLA early in the morning on March 19, 2020.

Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, the all-girls public charter school in Hamilton County, has taken student meals on the road.

The school, which serves students in grades 6 through 12 from predominantly low-income neighborhoods in Chattanooga, launched the "Mustang Express" Thursday morning as schools across the state find ways to support students and families while they are closed due to COVID-19 concerns.

The "Mustang Express" is a partnership with the YMCA of Metropolitan Chattanooga and volunteers who will load up CGLA school buses and deliver students meals and general household supplies straight to CGLA families.

The main concern for Elaine Swafford, chief executive officer of the school, with schools closed is ensuring students have access to the food and basic supplies that are necessary to a young person's well-being, Swafford said in a press release. 

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Staff Photo by Robin Rudd / YMCA staff member Pedro Bautista and Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy volunteer Justin Swafford, load YMCA prepared meals, onto a bus from the Siren Safe Transportation LLC. Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy established Mustang Express to ease some of the burden caused by the COVID-19 crisis by suppling students and their families with meals and household supplies. The first run of the express left CGLA early in the morning on March 19, 2020.

"Providing provisions that maintain a child's health, notably nutritional, balanced meals, improves a student's ability to academically engage and achieve," said Swafford in the release. "We want to support our students so we will begin delivering meals on Thursday, March 19."

The "Mustang Express" is named after the school's unofficial mascot and the legacy of the school's Mustang Leadership Partners program, which pairs girls with rescued wild mustangs. The program was established by one of the school's co-founders Sue Anne Wells

In addition to student meals, other essential household goods, such as toilet paper, toothpaste, paper towels, sanitizing wipes, feminine hygiene products and soap will also be delivered.

"While closing school will positively impact our community by reducing the spread of COVID-19, closing school, conversely, can adversely impact many CGLA families," said Justin Booker, chief operating officer, in a statement.

CGLA is one of four public charter schools in Hamilton County. Currently, Hamilton County Schools and a variety of community partners are providing meals to all children, aged 18 or under, at dozens of school sites across the county.

For a list of such sites, click here

For more information about the Mustang Express, visit CGLAonline.com.

Contact Meghan Mangrum at mmangrum@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6592. Follow her on Twitter @memangrum.

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