Grand Island Public Schools offering free meals to students

Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 10:05 PM CDT
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GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Grand Island Public Schools are offering students free breakfast, lunch and an after school snack during the 2021-22 academic year. This is the second year the district is offering the free meals to its students through the National School Lunch Program.

Kris Spellman, Grand Island Public School District director for child nutrition, said the district is participating in the program for a specific reason.

“Last year due to COVID, the meal prices were waived to provide meals for all children at no cost because there was such an economic impact,” Spellman said.

Spellman added that the free meal program may especially be valuable to those in the community who have multiple children attending school in the district and typically have to pay hundreds of dollars in lunch money each month.

One school in the Grand Island district even started providing a free meal to students years before the pandemic.

“Walnut started a free breakfast program several years ago, a free grab-and-go breakfast, and that’s been about, I want to say eight years ago now. And we found out that it was extremely beneficial for our students because we know that breakfast is important, it gets people started in the right direction,” said Rod Foley, principal of Walnut Elementary School. “And we saw significantly some good attendance figures.”

And because of the 2021-22 meal program, students across the school district received a free breakfast.

Spellman said that, along with getting free meals, the children were benefiting in other ways as well.

“School meals are a major part of what children eat for their nutrition,” Spellman said. “And a lot of kids eat breakfast at school, and lunch and sometimes an after school snack. So, they receive a lot of calories and nutrition basically from those meals.”

Spellman added that from the school meals, kids are receiving nutrients to help them perform better in the classroom, as well as with their emotional and social well-being.

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