LAMAR, Mo. — Because of the pandemic, students across the country are receiving free lunches at school through June 30th.
As you can imagine, it’s a blessing for many school districts, including Lamar.
“It’s a good feeling to know that some of these kids, this is where they get their main meals and, and that we know they’re actually getting them,” said Doneva Strawmyer, Lamar Schools Director of Nutrition Service.
Since the pandemic started, many parents and family members were laid off.
Because of this, there was concerns that some kids may not be provided the amount of food they need to function throughout the day.
But with the U.S.D.A. extending free meals in schools, those concerns have reduced.
“This is a huge relief to parents, because they also know their kids are being fed and they are not as concerned about how much money they’re making, or how much they’re not making, so that they can provide for their kids because they know that their kids are getting fed well at school,” said Carlie Brown, West Elementary Principal.
Prior to the pandemic, nutritionists within the Lamar schools had many kids on meal plans and not as many eating school lunch.
“We were about 50 percent of our kids were free or reduced before. So, we were probably serving I’d say 150 to 300 depending on what the breakfast was,” said Strawmyer.
Since free meals have been introduced, Strawmyer adds they’re seeing more kids come to school without a sack lunch.
“It has been awesome. We are, we’re seeing our lunch participation increase, our breakfast participation has, you know, probably 30 percent increase there, so it has been amazing,” said Strawmyer.
Not only is the amount of kids coming in to eat lunch increasing, brown believes their learning is too.
“I do feel like it’s helping them focus in school, and being able to learn more and do what they need to be able to do here in school,” said Brown.
Strawmyer says they’re now seeing around 500 meals a day for breakfast and upwards of 800 for lunch.