District begins to offer school dinners


Freshman Dylan Van Hise reaches for a chicken sandwich, provided by the CPS dinner program, as he waits for his ride. The program supplies students who stay after school with food to carry them through the later hours of the day. The service is open to anyone in the community. Photo by Kristine Cho

Rochita Ghosh

In addition to the already available breakfast and lunch, Columbia Public Schools (CPS) has been offering dinners for RBHS, Hickman High School and Battle High School students since Aug. 22 of this school year.
With clubs and sports occurring after school hours, some students find themselves not leaving school grounds until a time that is usually spent around the dinner table.
“The [high school’s] schedule requires some students to eat lunch early in the day, but these students do not get out of school until 4:05 [p.m.],” Nutrition Services Supervisor Katie Frink said. “If a student stays after school, then it increases the amount of time between lunch and then getting home and eating dinner. We are providing supper to try and bridge that gap.”
Frink said the new change provides an additional source of nutrients after school and before activities. Besides the fact that students can leave the school without an empty stomach, students who qualify for reduced lunches can still access the food regardless of their financial situations.
“The menu will consist of items students have voted as favorites. The hot meal will cost $2.90 and individual snack and a la carte options will be available, as well,” Community Relations Director Michelle Baumstark said. “The meal can be paid for with cash or charged to student meal accounts. Meals also qualify for free or reduced-pricing. Service is available from 4:30-7:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday and may vary on Fridays.”
While students who are leaving right after they are released from class have never stayed long enough to get hungry, senior Bana Daghlas, who recently ate dinner after school finds it helpful, especially when she has work to catch up on.
“Not everyone can drive or afford to leave school in order to get food,” Daghlas said. “This especially goes for underclassmen.”[vc_video link=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3ue9h_8ja7E” align=”right”]video directed, edited and produced by Madison WrightNot only does the newly provided supper help high school students without a hot meal at home, but Frink also says the change is accessible for anyone. It allows more people within the community to be fed if finding a third meal is hard.
“Anyone can purchase a meal although the program was predominantly designed for students,” Frink said. “[Families] are welcome to eat if they are in the building as well.”
Offering dinner shows benefits when trying to get food from another source may be too hard. By allowing more opportunities for service within the school system, CPS is hoping to gain more of a profit from meals while still helping its students and their families get a meal.
“It gives students an opportunity to have a meal after school before heading home or before they participate in activities,” Frink said. “It helps to meet their needs and fuel them.”