Anonymous donor provides free lunches to Georgia district's families in need during holiday break

Students selects lunch items at Burke County Middle School in Waynesboro, Ga. on Tuesday, November 14, 2017. By Andrea Diaz, CNN

(CNN) -- School's out for the holidays, and for many students, so is lunch.

But this year, thanks to an anonymous donor, students in need will be able to get free lunch through the winter break in DeKalb County, a suburban area east of Atlanta, Georgia, CNN affiliate WGCL-TV reported.

Over 20 million children participated in the federally assisted low-cost or no-cost National School Lunch Program during the 2017-2018 school year, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Under this program, any child at a participating school may purchase a meal. Local schools set the prices for meals and offer a sliding scale to students depending on family income.

For many students, this is their main source for food, but once the holidays come around, the schools close and so does their cafeterias.

"For many of our students, school is the stable place for them," DeKalb County School District (DCSD) Deputy Superintendent Vasanne Tinsley told WGCL-TV.

The school district announced Wednesday that they would be opening two school cafeterias to serve lunch -- free of charge -- to those in need, thanks to the donation they received.

"This program is made possible by a grant from a Donor Advised Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta, in partnership with Jewish Family & Career Services," the school district said in a statement.

Two cafeterias were open today, one at Stone Mountain Elementary and a second one in Woodward Elementary. The school district plans to keep them open for the remainder of this week, and on January 2nd and 3rd.

"Thanks to our School Nutrition Services, students who rely on the district for their daily meals will continue to receive them without interruption. We will continue to support our community, and take education in DeKalb County to new heights, " DCSD Superintendent/CEO Dr. R. Stephen Green said in the statement.

In 2017, an estimated 6.5 million children in America lived in households without consistent access to enough food, according to the USDA, and some studies have found that the lack of nutrition these children receive during school breaks can drastically impact their health, well-being and ability to learn.

"When we talk about 'wrap-around' services at DeKalb County School District, we are talking about providing opportunities for success by any means necessary," Green said in the statement.

Along with the free meals, the DCSD will be providing families with a free vision screening and nutrition education training.

CNN reached out to the school district and is waiting to hear back.

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