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'Just happy to feed the kids': State to continue school meal program

Free meal program Bryan Station.jpg
Posted at 3:24 PM, Jun 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-23 19:22:29-04

LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Mayme Trent has a smile on her face and about 90-something bags to give away.

“Very needed. Very needed, and just happy to feed the kids,” Trent said.

Trent is on her fourth year of working the state’s free summer lunch program.

Today, at Bryan Station High School, Mayme and her co-workers passed out 75 lunches for kids under the age of 18. All six of Lexington’s public high schools have pick-up locations on Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. until 12 p.m. during the summer months. The bags consist of enough breakfast and lunch meals to last for those days in between. And the state announced that it will extend the free meal program for at least another school year.

“Healthy bodies, healthy minds,” said Jamie Wallace who runs the food service at the school. “A child without breakfast or lunch just isn’t going to be paying attention in school by the end of the day."

Inside Bryan Station High School, where enrollment tops 1,600 students, roughly 95% of the students (1,611) participated in the meal program during the last school year. And there were a number of schools in the state which reported 100% of their students using the program during the last school year. Most of those are in smaller, rural counties, but it was enough to encourage the state’s Community and School Nutrition board to continue the program, making it free for all.

“It gives us a little break on the grocery budget,” said parent Lauren Gelbart, who added that her kids like the variety they get with these meals. She also found another positive to this program.

“Saves us time in the morning. Not having to think about, or prepare everything for the day and the week,” she said.

That’s one fortunate bi-product. Mr. Wallace has his own.

“There’s nothing like seeing smiles on faces and going home feeling like you’ve done something, even if it’s a little something,” he said.

They got that feeling 75 times today. That’s how many meal bags were distributed at the Bryan Station site alone.