VWSD feeds hungry students

Published 11:04am Friday, May 23, 2014

The news announced this week that the Vicksburg Warren School District had met the criteria for community eligibility in a grant to feed students K through 8th-grade should be an exciting prospect for parents and guardians of elementary and junior high school students.

The program, part of the part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, is aimed at eliminating child hunger in high poverty areas.

Whereas this past year, the cost of meals was either entirely or partially on the parents, this program will provide reimbursement from federal money for the district, eliminating the need for those students to pay for their meals.

No paperwork, no applications. Though students will still have to pay if they want extra meals, this should be a boon to the community and the district in which nearly three out of four students qualified for free and reduced lunches — one of the leading metrics that determines how widespread poverty is in a school district.

Considering that there are about 5,000 children in kindergarten through eighth grade and that those students would spend 180 days in school, providing two free healthy meals per day should generate hundreds of dollars in savings for parents and guardians.

From a purely financial viewpoint, that is money back in the community’s pocket.

The administrative staff in the VWSD central office, particularly Gail Kavanaugh, Brenda Milner and Shelley Plett, deserve a lion’s share of the credit for manually cross-listing the district’s students with those listed in the department of human services for being part of a family that qualifies for the federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.

Concerns about the reimbursement formula should be assuaged by the fact that the schools may drop out of the program without punishment should it not be financially advantageous for the 8,500-student district.

We are hopeful that, as VWSD Board of Trustees President Bryan Pratt said, this reimbursement grant can eventually be expanded to include the high schools.

The district should be lauded for taking full advantage of federal programming that will be good for the district, students and parents in Warren County.

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