“We call it our third meal program or after school dinner program. It helps us to provide a meal for our students before they go home for the day.” – Butner Public Schools Superintendent Diane Parris
Students learn while eating
CROMWELL, Oklahoma — Remember those days in school when you were about to leave to go home. Lunch was a few hours ago and if no one was at home to cook, the hunger pains start.
That happens to a lot of students. The last meal was eaten around noon. After that, it is possible they would not get a meal until that evening when their parents get home.
Butner Public Schools wants to change that.
“We call it our third meal program or after school dinner program,” BPS Superintendent Diane Parris said. “It helps us to provide a meal for our students before they go home for the day.”
It is part of a federal program called the Child and Adult Care Food Program. According to their website, CACFP provides aid to child and adult care institutions and family or group day care homes for the provision of nutritious foods that contribute to the wellness, healthy growth, and development of young children, and the health and wellness of older adults and chronically impaired disabled persons.
“We provide this meal at no charge to the kids,” Parris said. “We pay for it and get reimbursed.”
This is the first year the school will implement this program. There are 255 students at BPS.
“We started this Oct. 9,” Parris said. “Every student in the school participates in this program.”
BPS gets the meals through a company called Keystone Food Service Company out of Stillwater. Manager in the Customer Personnel Department of KFSC Kristi Stephens spoke about what they do with the schools.
Stephens said they work with several schools throughout the state of Oklahoma by providing the meals for the institutions.
“It allows them (schools) to not have to focus on the food inventory,” she said. “They get to focus on the educational side.”
She said they handle all the regulations with the State of Oklahoma for the school. Also in other areas they have to deal with frozen meals while the meals that Keystone prepares are from scratch.
BPS, like any other school, has after-school activities. To go along with that most of the children live in rural areas. They have two bus routes that take the children home and at times, they could be on the bus for an hour before they get home.
“Sometimes longer,” Parris said. “If you take our elementary kids, they have lunch at 11 (a.m.), and they get on the bus at 3 (p.m.). With some of the routes, they are not getting home until 4 (p.m.) or after.”
Parris said there is not a place for the students to get food after school. She knows that this program helps the children’s appetite.
“It’s not just a snack, it is a full meal,” she said.
For the State of Oklahoma a full school day is six hours. So after 2 p.m., BPS can provide lunches for the students.
“The students have to eat the third meal here at school,” Parris said.
She said the students and faculty, along with the parents are happy with the program and have provided a lot of great feedback.
“Parents were telling us the next day on how happy they were for our kids to get that third meal,” Parris said. “One teacher said her students thought it was Christmas.”
Parris said they would be applying for this program the upcoming school years.