Smyrna, Tenn. — TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center’s maternity department and other employees teamed up to make a difference in the lives of over 145 ATLAS students during the holiday season through the “GIVEN CELEBRATION” by preparing weekend food bags. Without these food bag donations, many students in Rutherford County Schools would go hungry over the holiday break.
ATLAS, which stands for Academic Time Leads to Achieving Students, is Rutherford County Schools’ program for serving students who are deemed homeless by the federal McKinney-Vento Act.”
“Students become part of the program when they do not have a fixed, regular, and adequate night time residence” said Kim Snell, county liaison for the program. “Currently there are 944 students who qualify for the program in Rutherford County and we anticipate this number to continue to rise.”
ATLAS students receive breakfast and lunch at school during the week, but many have little access to food on the weekend. This is where the weekend food bag (also called the backpack program) comes into play. Students are provided weekend food bags each week to take home with them over the weekend. The bags are distributed through the ATLAS program coordinator at each school and food is sent home inside these backpacks.
“The bags and snacks prepared by TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center are donated to the Rutherford County School system, therefore, allowing the counselors the discretion to provide them to other students as well who may need them but are not necessarily ATLAS students,” said Debbie Mankin, administrative assistant who oversees the food distribution to the schools. “We are so thankful to TriStar StoneCrest Medical Center for their donations to meet the needs of so many hungry children within our community.”
“The maternity department staff and others throughout the hospital have truly gone above and beyond by reaching into their own pockets to help local students that are in significant need in Rutherford County,” said Michelle Browning, director of maternity services. “As a mother, grandmother and nurse, I know the importance of nutrition for these students. TriStar StoneCrest has embraced the culture of committing to the care and improvement of human life by working together to compile these weekend food bags to provide additional snacks to students in need within our community.”