Free Meals Available to All Students in Ohio County Schools | News, Sports, Jobs

Ohio County Schools Chefs Jill Hutchison, left, and Lisa DeCesare prepare meals in the Ritchie Elementary School’s kitchen. (File photo)

CYCLING – Ohio County Schools will continue to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students in the school for the 2021-2021 school year, while students studying from home will also be able to receive meals.

Ohio County Schools announced this week that any child under the age of 18 who is a virtual learner in the county can sign up for a weekly multi-day meal pickup. Meals are available for pickup from one location only – Bridge Street Middle School, 19 Junior Ave., Wheeling, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

The parcels are not sent home like in summer.

Virtual learners interested in the meal program should contact the Ohio County Schools Child Nutrition Office and Director Renee Griffin at 304-243-0477, rgriffin@k12.wv.us, 1976 Park View Road, Wheeling, 26003.

Griffin says the county still operates its meal program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Program. The program offers students a free breakfast and lunch each day.

Each school has a different way of serving breakfast, Griffin said. Some have breakfast early in the day or offer a second breakfast snack for students later in the morning. A takeaway breakfast is also available for students to take with them to class.

“Anything we can do to increase student breakfast participation the better,” Griffin said. “Students are more willing to study with a full stomach to get them through the day.”

At lunchtime this year, the students will see a new opportunity in their canteens. Those who don’t want a hot lunch can choose a bento lunch box, which can contain pieces of cheese, whole grain crackers, and fruits and vegetables, for example.

“It’s just another way to increase participation and get kids to lunch at school,” Griffin said.

The Ohio County Schools summer feeding program ended in late July. Adding the number of meals served at local community facilities and meals sent home, the school district provided around 30,000 breakfast meals and around 38,000 lunches for students during the summer.

Griffin described the numbers for summer 2021 and those for 2020 in the years before the pandemic as “significantly higher”.

She suspects that many students and their families were simply unable to get groceries on a regular basis.

“Our traditional program has never been this big,” said Griffin.

Ohio County Schools is reimbursed monthly for the number of meals they provided in the past month, she explained.

Sending food packages to households “worked” after some labeling issues were fixed earlier this summer, Griffin said.

“In the end, it was the right thing to do,” she says. “Once we started and got going, it got a lot easier.

“The program had its challenges, but we would do it again if we had the opportunity. I don’t know if we have to. It just depends on what the future brings. “

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