Eighth District School Nutrition and the Southeast Health District Lend a Helping Hand to the Homeless

April 13, 2015

An old saying goes, “You should never look down on someone unless you are helping them up.”

Two local groups are taking this motto to heart and fulfilling a big need in their communities. The Eighth District Georgia School Nutrition Association and the Southeast Health District have partnered to form Operation Thrive, a project that will provide resource bags for the homeless population in their counties.

According to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, there were close to 17,000 homeless people in Georgia in 2013. At a recent meeting of the Eighth District Georgia School Nutrition Association held in Douglas, the two organizations came together to merge all of their donated items.

The Eighth District is part of the Georgia School Nutrition Association (GSNA), a professional organization of school food service employees in the state of Georgia. GSNA is a nonprofit organization founded in 1951 and incorporated in Georgia in 1967. The Southeast Health District includes 16 counties to promote and protect the health of people in Southeast Georgia through services provided at local health departments and in the communities.

“Every year we look for a project to help our counties,” said Laura Lynn, president of the Eighth District Georgia School Nutrition Association. “This year, we are so glad to be working with a vulnerable population that is also served by the Southeast Health District. The District’s suggestion to help the homeless was the inspiration for us to organize this mission and collaborate with them.”

The school food service and health district employees pooled resources to create more than 500 backpacks to be given out in 20 South Georgia counties. Drawstring backpacks provided by the Eighth District Georgia School Nutrition were packed with hand sanitizer, nonperishable food, hygiene products, resource cards and personal notes of encouragement.

First responders also received backpacks to distribute to the homeless as needed. Douglas Police Department, Coffee County Sheriff’s Office and Coffee County Fire Department were on hand to learn about the backpacks.

“Many times our local city and county police officers are called out to handle homeless people,” said Lynn. “Because our local law enforcement officers are relied on to help with so many different situations, it would help them greatly if they had a backpack that they could give to individuals that have essential items for them to thrive.”

“Our mission at the Southeast Health District is to promote and protect the health of people in Southeast Georgia, wherever they live, work and play, uniting with individuals, families and communities to improve and enhance their quality of life,” said Becky Carver, the perinatal health coordinator for the Southeast Health District. “This project and partnership is a perfect example of that mission. We look forward to continuing our work with the Eighth District Georgia School Nutrition in the future.”

Visit www.sehdph.org for more information about the Southeast Health District’s public health and community service initiatives.

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