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Morris Public Schools offering free third meal to students

Morris free third school meal.png
Posted at 7:43 PM, Oct 30, 2023

MORRIS, Okla. — Morris Public Schools started offering a third free meal for its students during the last hour of each school day this week.

"We have such a tight-knit community that cares about their kids, cares about their school," Superintendent Chris Karch told 2 News. "I really think that what you're seeing is a reflection of how our community operates as a whole."

According to Feeding America, more than one in five kids in Okmulgee County in 2021 suffered from food insecurity and 71% qualified for federal nutrition programs. Those are figures nutrition director Lousenda Pannell said require action.

"At the end of the day our kids are hungry and they're looking for something else to eat," Pannell said. "I was getting that feedback from from some of our teachers. So I was like, 'Well let me just see what we can do. I'm gonna go ahead and try to apply for the program.'"

The Morris Board of Education voted to use its COVID funding to keep serving free breakfast and lunch. As of Monday, all kids now get a third meal rolled out to their class in the last hour of the day.

Pannell said the approved grant comes from the federal Child and Adult Care Food Program. Due to state regulations the meals can't be taken home, but can be eaten prior to dismissal.

"Really what we're looking for is to give them that last nutrition just before they go home, as we know some of our kids - just when they get home they may not have anything soon as they get home, or maybe all evening until the next morning," Pannell added.

The community responded well to the third meal's announcement on Facebook.

Morris Elementary School grandparent Kala Martin said it gained her support too.

"I know there are a lot of kids that probably go home in the evening and may not have anything to eat," Martin said. "And this way it ensures that they are getting some nutrition."

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