State, county partnership helps cash-strapped farmers and struggling families

Dante Smith is one of the hundreds of people who were in line Friday before the gates at a food giveaway in Clarkston even opened. He lays tile for a living but hasn't worked since the deadly coronavirus flat-lined much of Georgia's workforce. He said he wasn't shocked to see the long line of families waiting for free boxes of food.

"I am not surprised. I live around here, and this community needs it and I know the people around here appreciate it. I know I do," said Smith.

DeKalb County Fire recruits loaded more than a thousand care baskets as families in need pulled up at Hallford Stadium. Each package was filled with 20 pounds of fresh produce and frozen chicken from Georgia farms.

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"The COVID-19 pandemic is wreaking havoc on the lives of Georgia citizens. Millions are being thrown out of work or being furloughed. Families are struggling to make ends meet and put food on the table," said DeKalb County CEO Michael Thurmond.

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Thurmond told reporters he's grateful State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black reached out to DeKalb County to negotiate a deal that would keep farmers from wasting food and losing money while replenishing the food supply for DeKalb County families struggling to get by in fresh food desserts.

"We have to work together. We have to pull the marketplace together with those in need and those that have product and there couldn't be a better place to start than right here in DeKalb. We couldn't have done this without DeKalb leaders laying the groundwork," said Commissioner Black.

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Twelve hundred food packages were distributed between families at Hallford Stadium in Clarkston and Buck Godfrey Stadium near Decatur.

"This is such a blessing. This food means will be able to eat a couple of days, actually, a lot of days with no problem. We're gonna bake it, fry it and do whatever we can with it. I'm from the country so I can make a bunch of different meals out of this," DeKalb Resident Sheryl Heard said with a smile at the Clarkston location.

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