MASON COUNTY — The West Virginia Department of Education (WVDE) announced last week that it’s seeking partners for feeding students during the summer.
In a press release, the WVDE said “community programs and organizations are vital to ensuring children in West Virginia are still receiving the nutrition they need, especially in low-income areas.”
The WVDE says that county boards of education, local governments and nonprofit organizations can opt to participate in the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) when the funding is available.
Mason County Schools does not currently have a summer feeding program, but Food Service Director Beverly Glaze said a program is always in thought.
“Is summer feeding something that we would do in the future?” Glaze asked. “It’s always looked at.”
Glaze said the program would be more of a budget and logistics issue. For a summer program to work, the school would need enough staff to prepare the food, deliver and serve the meals. Glaze said they would likely have to have stations for children to pick up food and she wonders how the students would travel to the sites.
The schools do have a backpack program to send food home with children on the weekends.
Glaze said they serve around 3,500 breakfasts and lunches per day. The school system qualifies for the Community Eligibility Program, where all students qualify for free meals if the majority of the community meets the income requirements.
These meals all follow the dietary guidelines for the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) school lunch program.
Additionally, in West Virginia, the Fresh Food Act (HB 2396), which passed in 2019, requires school systems that receive government funding to purchase at least five percent of produce, meat and poultry products from in-state producers. Glaze said for a few years, she has purchased animals from the Mason County Fair. These animals are processed locally and USDA inspected then served to the students within the county. Glaze called the initiative “fair-to-fork.”
Glaze said although the school system is currently unable to feed students during the summer months, there are local churches and organizations that provide assistance for families year-round.
More on these summer feeding programs in upcoming editions.
Kayla Hawthorne is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.