CCBOE after-school meal program picking up speed


Image credit: United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service

CULLMAN COUNTY – In January, the Cullman County Board of Education (CCBOE) implemented a new federal program to provide after-school meals for area students.  When he introduced it, Superintendent Shane Barnette stated that the program offers free suppers to anyone 18 and younger: not just to students in the public-school system, but any child or teen residing within the CCBOE's district.  There is no application form for students or parents to fill out.  Those who come get served.

CCBOE Chief School Financial Officer Ed Roberson, who oversees the administration of the program, shared, "We are currently providing almost 2,000 kids per day a healthy supper at the end of their school day.  We are of course very excited about this program, and our goal is to implement the program at additional Cullman County schools.  Unfortunately we have several kids across Cullman County that do not receive a good meal at home in the evenings.  The primary purpose of this program is to address that issue.  It is also very beneficial to any student who remains on campus after school for activities, this includes academic and athletic teams, as well as band."

After-school meals are offered Monday through Friday.  School cafeterias begin serving as school gets out, and continue until around 4 p.m.  For some students who have need but cannot stay (those riding the bus, etc.), packaged carry-out meals may be available.

According to Roberson, the program does not cost the system anything.  All funding is provided by the United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service.  From the service's website, qualifying schools and other entities:

  • Are located at sites where at least half of the children in the school attendance area are eligible for free and reduced-price school meals.
  • Offer educational or enrichment activities, after the regular school day ends or on week-ends and holidays, during times of the year when school is in session.
  • Meet licensing, health or safety codes that are required by state or local law.
  • Serve nutritionally balanced meals and snacks that meet USDA's nutrition standards, with foods like milk, meat, vegetables, fruit and bread.

The CCBOE started its after-school meal program at the Child Development Center and Fairview High School in January, and on Feb. 1 introduced it to West Point and Hanceville.  The goal is to see free suppers offered at every school in the system, but no time frame for that has been announced.

By the numbers:

*Child Development Center (Vinemont) – 250 meals per day

*Fairview – 675 meals per day

*West Point – 650 meals per day

*Hanceville – 250 meals per day

Any child or youth who is age 18 or younger at the start of the school year, and lives within the district of the CCBOE, is invited to participate.  There is no cost, and parents do not have to pre-register their kids.


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