Children across Oklahoma have returned to class.
Not only have students picked up new notebooks and possibly a new outfit, but parents have filled out or will fill out various forms at school, including applications for free and reduced-price lunch programs.
All children can participate in school nutrition programs, but children from low-income households can receive meals at a free or reduced price depending on household income.
During the pandemic, schools have provided free meals to all students, so parents with young children may not be aware that there are forms that need to be completed to participate in the free meals program and to reduced price this year.
Many children across the state arrive at school hungry due to food insecurity, which has increased during the pandemic. Participating in school meal/nutrition programs is one way to ensure that children receive adequate nutrition and food security during the day.
School meals impact thousands of children every day. In Oklahoma, approximately 367,000 students eat school lunches daily. This statistic alone makes it abundantly clear that schools are an important source of nutritious food for children across the state.
Parents who think they might benefit from the program should contact their local school district for an application.
Hunger and malnutrition have a negative impact on a student’s ability to learn. Hungry children have lower immunity, miss out more, and perform worse in school. It’s no secret that healthier children learn better and are more likely to graduate from high school and college.
Most schools offer both lunch and lunch, and some also offer after-school snack programs. Research indicates that the more meals students eat at school, the better the quality of their diet.
Parents can also check with the school to see if a weekend snack/meal program is available. Some schools, churches, or pantries provide backpacks with easy-to-prepare foods for weekend meals.
Rachel Lockwood is the Family Consumer Science Extension Educator with the Pittsburg County OSU Cooperative Extension Service. For more information on this topic or related FCS programs, contact Rachel at 918-423-4120, email [email protected], or visit the Pittsburg County OSU website http:/ /oces.okstate.edu/pittsburg/ or search for Pittsburg County OSU Extension Center or Pittsburg County OHCE on Facebook.
Oklahoma State University, United States Department of Agriculture, cooperating state and local governments. Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible individuals regardless of age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, genetic information, gender identity, national origin, disability, protected veteran status or other legally protected status and is an Equal Opportunity Employer.