Guidance department provides food to students


Food in the guidance office.

Rochita Ghosh

Students throughout RBHS often complain of hunger, the pangs in their stomach distracting them from their work. To some students, this is a mere inconvenience, for they know this is temporary and they have access to food later. To others, however, it is a problem they face regularly, and they do not always have the ability to solve it.
To remedy this, the guidance department provides food for students who are stricken with insoluble hunger during the day. This policy started when the school start and end times changed to 9 A.M. and 4:05 P.M. respectively, director of guidance Betsy Jones said. These new times brought a change to the lunch times as well, which hurt some students.
“For students who have limited access to food outside of school, they would have a free breakfast at 8:45 A.M. and then a free lunch at 10:30 A.M.,” Jones said. “They may go all the way until 8:45 A.M. the next day for another meal. We felt it was important through our Bruin Care account to support students to get an afternoon snack.”
The Bruin Care account, funded by anonymous donations and Student Council, helps support RBHS students in whatever they may need throughout the year, which funds these snacks.
“I’ve bought boots for the welding class, emergency food supplies, winter coats,” Jones said. “Whatever students might need that families fall short of.”
For students who need not just an extra snack, other options are available. The Columbia Public Schools district currently provides the school breakfast and the school lunch programs, which make these meals free to purchase. The schools with the highest percentage of people on the free and reduced program have additional programs, such as the fresh fruit and vegetable and the after school snack programs, director of nutrition services Laina Fullum said.
Because of the number of programs and the money required to maintain them, Fullum says that the department has been working on providing a more affordable lunch to students. Nutrition services has to generate their own revenue to support the department, meaning they must be financially independent of assistance from the district. In order to pay for all everything that goes into what the department spends, like supplies and employee wages, they needed to make changes.
“This combination of requirements and new regulations has led to our need to reduce the cost of what it takes to produce a lunch,” Fullum said. “…We have to control the things we can and that is the cost of labor and supplies to produce a meal.”
A way students can help the hunger problem in schools is to contribute to the food drives or simply being on the program.
“The more students who participate the better spending power we have to improve meals and accessibility,” Fullum said. “It provides jobs to the lowest paid employees in the district who many by nature of their job opportunities are also in a situation of poverty.”
Approximately 42 percent of the district population is enrolled in the free and reduced lunch program, an indicator for high poverty in CPS, as well as the exhaustion of the Food Bank that the Nutrition Services maintains, Fullum said.
Sophomore Erin Kravchick likes that there are options available for students who need it, especially after gaining perspective from volunteering at the food bank.
“I love what the food bank stands for,” Kravchick said. “I believe that no one should have to worry about if they’re going to get food at night because everyone should have something to eat. If I can spend my time providing meals for others, I’m going to do it.”
This mentality is what led guidance to decide to accumulate food for RBHS students. While these snacks cannot support the entire school, any person pained with hunger can obtain a snack.
“If you tell me you’re hungry, I’ll get you food,” Jones said.