District to begin offering free meals for all

May. 12, 2014 @ 10:35 PM

Vance County will soon offer students free meals.

The Vance County Board of Education on Monday approved the Community Eligibility Provision allowing all students free meals at school.

The program was created under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act as an alternative to free lunch applications. Phillis Newcomb, director of Vance County Schools’ child nutrition program, presented the provision at a finance committee meeting in April.

“Of course, they [students] are hungry; if you are human, you are hungry,” chairwoman Gloria White said. “There are kids right now being charged for food when they could be getting it for free. This puts everyone on a level playing field. I don't think we can go wrong with feeding a child.”

With 65 percent of Vance County students receiving or qualifying for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program — also known as food stamps — the district qualified for federal reimbursement at the free rate, which would not only pay for all students' meals but also increase reimbursement money for the district by about $40,000.

School board members voted unanimously to include the provision starting next school year, though board member Ruth Hartness had some concerns.

“I have a hard time with students coming up, and the government paying everything for them,” she said. “Are students going to grow up thinking that everything is going to be handed to them?”

The school board also approved on first reading several policies, including one on the employee use of social media, which bans faculty interaction with students on social media not regulated by the school system. It must still be approved on second reading.

The board also heard presentations from E.O. Young Elementary School's new principal Marylaura McKoon and Zeb Vance Elementary School principal Anne Garrison on new programs being implemented in their schools to enhance their students' reading abilities.

“Only 11 students didn't make it to their reading goals this year,” McKoon said.

In the past, students at E.O. Young have struggled to make growth in reading and math, she said.

"We are going to continue to prowl; we are going to continue to be persistent, and we will continue to roar,” she said.


Contact the writer at dhairston@hendersondispatch.com.