Warrensburg school district reports uptick in summer food program

Written by Muleskinner Staff

(WARRENSBURG, Mo., digitalBURG) — The Warrensburg R-VI School Board approved the district’s annual Food Service Program Review during its meeting Tuesday.
Food Service Director Heather Wirsig reviewed the summer food program and last year’s food program, reporting that the summer food program was up 8.6 percent this summer.
The summer feeding program allows students under the age of 18 to receive breakfast and lunch for free while school is out.
She said there was a drop in the number of participants during the month of June.
Wirsig said the drop was mainly at the middle school level, where there was a 30 percent drop in participation. She said the decrease may have to do with changing the middle school’s meal location to Martin Warren Elementary from the middle school.
“I noticed there were several students who would bike or walk to the middle school when it was housed at the middle school and so maybe they couldn’t get there this summer,” Wirsig said.
Wirsig said she wants to work with Warrensburg Parks and Recreation next summer. The parks department puts on their own free summer program, and Wirsig said she wants to coordinate with them so that the parks department could provide a dinner instead of there being two lunches in town.
“It seems a little counterproductive to our city,” Wirsig said.
Each sponsor can only provide two meals, so Wirsig said if the school district gave out breakfast and lunch and the parks department could provide a snack and dinner. She said this could help students get three meals a day during summer day.
Wirsig also updated the board about the school year food services program. The middle school has a program called Second Chance Breakfast. So, if students miss or are not hungry during the morning breakfast, between 9 and 9:30 a.m., they have a chance to get breakfast. Wirsig said about 70 students take advantage of that progam.
Wirsig said she noticed as they reviewed applications for the free and reduced lunch program that many students who received free lunches went to reduced prices and some students who received reduced prices went to fully paid lunches. Now, more than 60 percent of students in the district pay for their lunches, 7 percent pay a reduced amount and 32 percent are free. She said she was unsure about what caused the changes as the income guidelines hadn’t changed significantly.
Wirsig said the online application for Meal Plus Program was a big hit for families. She said out of the 150 applications, 110 were submitted online.
Wirsig said she would like to look into a farm-to-school program again. She said Wilson’s Farm, which the district used in the past, does not grow lettuce anymore. So, she would like to find a replacement.
Board member Beth Rutt said there are grants that can help fund farm-to-school programs.
Wirsig said she would like to find a place to put an Agrow Cube. This gardening method was on display at the Missouri State Fair and is basically a self-contained garden where people can grow produce.