Miranda H. Lewis
Carter County Times
School meals are a critical safety net for vulnerable children and households when some thirty-four million people are food insecure in the United States, including nine million children, according to the USDA.
The critical role that school lunch plays in providing children with the nutrition they need to learn and thrive both in and out of the classroom is more important than ever as communities continue to overcome the educational, health, and economic impacts of the pandemic.
Superintendent Dr. Paul Green began the school board meeting on Monday, May 15 by commending the food service staff for their hard work transforming the Child Nutrition Program to meet the community’s needs.
He stated that members of the food service department work diligently to provide breakfast and lunch to over 4,000 students in Carter County.
Green further acknowledged the cafeteria staff for their tireless effort and for providing students with healthy meals, which for some may be the only warm meal they receive in a day.
Not only is school lunch crucial to student health and well-being, but the National School Lunch Program is especially critical for low-income students.
The pandemic exacerbated food insecurity among families with children. Although many families across the country are faced with hunger as a long term effect of the pandemic, rural communities tend to have higher levels of hunger.
Food insecurity is at an all-time high in Kentucky.
According to the USDA, one in seven children face hunger.
Simply put, students across the state rely on school lunch to receive the nutrition they need throughout the day to learn.
Staff members of the Child Nutrition Services across Carter County ensure that students have the nutrition they need for proper development, academic achievement, and mental health.
“Our staff has an amazing combination of talent, skills, and attitude that help make our ten cafeterias across the district successful! It is an honor and privilege to collaborate with these employees daily,” said Tiffany Felty, Child Nutrition Director. “There aren’t enough words for me to express the appreciation I have for the job they do and the service they provide to our district.”
According to Felty, every student in Carter County receives free breakfast and lunch.
“For the 2022-23 school year we had a breakfast participation rate of 54% and a lunch participation rate of 70% district wide,” she added.
It is imperative to the Carter County school system that meals meet nutrition standards and, in turn, have a positive impact on student food selection and consumption, especially for fruits and vegetables.
“This school year we have made a concentrated effort to look at our participation rates on specific days, speak to managers and staff at our schools, and survey students on what meals they really enjoy and what items they think should be taken off of the menus,” noted Felty of the districts nutritional program.
Lunch menus for the 2023-24 school year will be modified because of these conversations, she shared.
“Based on the recommendations of those groups of people and individuals, our schools are offering a variety of menu options for breakfast and for lunch and we are offering grab and go breakfast as well as breakfast after the bell to try and encourage our students to participate in our breakfast and lunch programs,” announced Felty.
Carter County will be offering free meals at two locations this summer.
“On the west end, West Carter High School, and Prichard on the east end. The summer feeding program will run from June 5 – July 21,” Felty said in closing.
The following individuals were recognized for their contributions to Carter County’s Child Nutrition Program:
Carter City Elementary:
East Carter High School:
East Carter Middle School:
Heritage Elementary School:
Olive Hill Elementary:
Tygart Creek Elementary:
West Carter High School:
West Carter Middle School:
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