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‘Feed the frontlines’ benefits vaccinators

Troup County, Downtown LaGrange and the City of LaGrange partnered together to “feed the frontlines” on Friday, serving 40 lunch plates to public health workers as they took a break from vaccinating people at the Troup County Bus Barn.

Employees and volunteers with the Troup County Health Department were in the process of giving COVID-19 vaccines to approximately 450 people who had secured appointments. The process was the same as last Friday — vaccine recipients used a drive-through format to check in, fill out paperwork and stop in the open-air repair shed to get their shot.  

The vaccinations are an ongoing process, so the workers took their lunch breaks in shifts.

“With them doing the vaccines, they can’t stop, they have to come and eat as they go,” said Donna Williams, a Troup County spokesperson. “It’s a rotation, so we wanted to make it as seamless as possible.”

Lunch boxes from Jim Bob’s Chicken Fingers were available, along with fruit, bottled water and cookies.

The program, LaGrange Community Feeds the Frontlines, was started by the Downtown LaGrange Development Authority at the start of the pandemic. Donations are used to purchase lunch from local businesses, providing them with customers during a difficult period for business. The DLDA in turn gives the food to frontline workers such as healthcare workers, law enforcement, firefighters, public health workers and emergency medical service workers.

“This one is a little different because our funds are depleted, which is why we’re out here asking for people to give, and every penny that people give goes straight to the food,” said Bill Hunnicutt, DLDA’s executive director. 

The pandemic continues to keep first responders busy, and the vaccination effort has a long way to go. Shortly before Christmas, DLDA fed 84 “overwhelmed and overworked” hospital workers at Wellstar West Georgia Medical Center, Hunnicutt said.

 Hunnicutt asked people to continue supporting the effort with their dollars. 

“We’re using the last $100 we had in our [Feed the Frontlines] account to pitch in with this one, but we need more donations,” he said.

For Friday’s lunch, the city and county pooled resources to help DLDA foot the bill. Williams said the county thanks the volunteers especially for donating their time and labor without pay.

“We know they’re out here risking their lives and making sure Troup County stays safe,” Williams said. “As you can see the weather is not the best today, so we just wanted to uplift them and make sure that they know that we’re supporting them 100 percent.”

Leslie Leonard, county nurse manager for the Troup County Health Department, said she and her fellow public health workers appreciated it.

“We appreciate it,” Leonard said. “It’s nice for somebody to think about us and offer us lunch.”

The health department is out of vaccine for now. Holmes said they usually get just a day or two of notice when new shipments are on the way and would make appointments available when that time comes. Anyone who has already received their first dose of the vaccine will get a call from the health department when an appointment is available to get their second vaccination.

Vaccines are also available through some private providers.