School’s duty doesn’t end with the academic calendar year

Published 11:00 am Thursday, June 14, 2018

Schools provide more than mental sustenance to the young children in our community. From literacy to nourishment, they serve many critical roles.

That fact becomes particularly apparent during the summer. Learning loss is a problem with which many educators are well-acquainted. Students who are not able to participate in summer camps or other activities can easily fall behind their peers. Local agencies and organizations, including schools, step up to the plate to provide programs that aim to stem any learning loss.

More important, students from many families may go without nutritional breakfasts, lunches or dinners. In severe cases, without the help of summer feeding programs, students may be forced to skip one or more meals. That’s why summer feeding programs are critical for our community’s children. During the year, the backpack snack program is another critical resource.

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The programs, hopefully, lessen the chance that parents will face a choice between buying food or paying rent when money gets tight.

In Monday’s State Journal, Frankfort Independent Schools Food Service Director Christy Pritchett said 1,500 to 2,000 meals will be served from the Frankfort High School cafeteria each day after the school system kicked off its feeding program over the weekend.

Meanwhile, Franklin County Schools runs a similar program that kicked off Monday and continues through Aug. 3. FCS Nutrition Program Director Wendy Greenwell said the county’s program will serve about 500 lunches per day. Last year, the program provided 28,000 meals, Greenwell said.

While not a perfect indicator of the need, data profiles produced by the Legislative Research Commission show a majority of students in both local school systems receive free or reduced-price lunch. In FCS, that statistic is 53 percent, Greenwell said.

In Frankfort and Franklin County, we’ve got many things to be thankful for, and one of those is that our school systems fill a nutritional gap for many students.

While our community’s needs are not entirely unique or the most severe in Kentucky, we should recognize the holistic nature of the work our public schools do to, as FCS Superintendent Mark Kopp says, create good citizens. That includes ensuring students can continue eating nutritious meals when classes end for the year.

“We put kids first and don’t see that our duties end when May 25 rolls around,” Kopp said.

The State Journal