Columbia Public Schools begins dinner program for students

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COLUMBIA - Columbia Public Schools started a supper program for its students on Monday. The district designed the program to feed students who stay on campus for after school activities, clubs, and sports.

The program starts at 4:30 p.m. at Battle, Rock Bridge, and Hickman High Schools. For now the program is only available to high school students, but the administration hopes to be able to expand the program in the future.

Laina Fullum, the Director of Nutritional Services of Columbia Public Schools, said it was teachers who drew attention to the students' lack of sufficient meals.

"The students were coming to them with concerns about being hungry," Fullum said. "Some of our teachers were actually purchasing snacks for the students. It was brought to the attention of administration, so the administration basically tried to find a solution, and the solution was supper."

Students who receive free and reduced lunch will pay nothing or 90 cents. The full price of the supper is $2.90. Students have the option of a hot meal or a la carte snacks. All items can be paid for in cash or charged to student meal accounts.

Right now the funding for the program is coming from the district, but Fullum hopes to get government money to offset the money the district is spending.

Battle High School Principal Kim Presko said, "When we can feed kids and kids can not worry about what they're going to eat, then they can focus on their academics."

Summer school students voted on what items they would like to have for supper. The schools put the students' top picks on the menu, which are prepared fresh for the students daily.

Presko also said the amount of students showing up for dinner has been increasing everyday, but cafeteria workers make sure they are prepared. Battle served six students on Monday and more than 75 on Wednesday.

Fullgum said this program is just as important for Columbia Public Schools parents as it is for students.

"I think it's important that our families know that we are there," she said.