CommunityPositively LEX 18


Woodford County businesses fund school meal program

School meals
Posted at 6:00 PM, Sep 22, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-22 18:29:49-04

VERSAILLES, Ky. (LEX 18) — With the pandemic nearing its official end, so are federal relief programs many people have come to rely on in the last two years.

Across the country, schools are dealing with the aftermath of the USDA’s expired free meal program, which offered every student free lunch throughout the pandemic.

Courtney Quire, food service director for Woodford County Schools, began worrying about the school lunch program long before the semester began.

“I think now that families are realizing the universal free meals are gone, they’re going to need that extra help,” said Quire.

According to Quire, the district serves 3,500 meals each day. About 1,500 students pay full price for those meals, and the rest of the students receive free or reduced-price meal vouchers. The pandemic-era free meal program eliminated costs for all students, but now, 200 students receiving reduced meals are in limbo.

“At the end of the universal free meals, my first concern was the families on reduced meals, my second was having to track down families for charges, no one wants to do that either,” said Quire. “We just want to be able to feed the kids and not worry about who has money to buy the meals.”

Quire began conversations with the Woodford County Chamber of Commerce, which led to the business community.

“I estimated, based on last year's numbers, that we could feed every kid with $15,000, and I thought that was a pretty high goal, but any bit would help,” said Quire, explaining the need for her district’s 200 students on reduced meals.

It didn’t take long for Woodford County’s business community to answer the call for help.

“As soon as my wife and I saw it, we thought this is a no-brainer,” said Ruggles Sign President Tim Cambron.

Ruggles, along with Community Trust Bank, More Than a Bakery, and an anonymous donor surpassed Quire’s goal of $15,000.

“We received $24,000 altogether, just beyond our expectations,” said Quire.

“Doing anything we can to help a family with kids is near and dear to our hearts,” said Cambron.

With the donations, Woodford County’s 200 reduced-meal students will get their meals for free through the end of the school year.

“Just to be able to put those funds directly into those families' accounts and give them refunds if they had put money in, it's just the best feeling,” said Quire.