News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Hennes Paynter Communications

NOCHE

Area Agency on Aging 10B, Inc.


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Education


Snow days affect Ohio students' access to food
School closures mean that  students will not receive their free or reduced meals
by WKSU's ANDY CHOW


Reporter
Andy Chow
 
Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, the executive director for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks, says it breaks her heart that some students who rely on the free breakfast and lunch programs have to go without food on snow days.
Courtesy of Ohio Association of Foodbanks
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:
The snow is causing headaches for drivers, forcing road crews to work around the clock, and causing many school closings. But as Statehouse correspondent Andy Chow reports, there’s another serious problem caused by the snow days that may go overlooked.
LISTEN: Snow days affect students access to food

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:50)


LISTEN: Snow days effect students access to food abbreviated version

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (0:58)


Many school districts have run out of calamity days, but making up that classroom time isn’t the only issue in some communities.

When a school closes for the day, then eligible students will not receive their free or reduced meals.

This issue troubles Lisa Hamler-Fugitt, the executive director for the Ohio Association of Foodbanks.

“I have to tell you my heart sinks when I wake up in the morning and I start to see the huge number of school closings because I know that that’s another day that too many children in our state — some 800,000 children — who rely on a free-breakfast or free-lunch program in our schools are going to go without that critical food that they need.”

Hamler-Fugitt says the issue has become so pressing that some superintendents have decided to keep schoolsl open because of the free and reduced meal dilemma.

Rural areas
Susan Rogers is the director of the COAD/RSVP in the Ohio Valley, a volunteer management program that helps further development in Appalachian Ohio. She says the schools in her area have been dramatically impacted when you take into account all the snow and add that to southeast Ohio’s many hills and back roads.

As Rogers explains, families take these meals into account when they head to the grocery story.

“That’s how they budget so when there is no school—their kids are home—that’s three extra meals, or two meals and a snack that they are needing to provide to each of their children everyday so their resources are being exhausted.”

Here are a couple of numbers to give you an idea of just how much of an impact the weather has had in southeast Ohio. The most recent data from the Department of Education says more than 1,300 kids at Vinton County Local Schools rely on these meals. So far that district has had 16 snow days.

Athens City Schools has shut down for a total of 15 days, leaving more than 1,100 students without free or reduced meals. And Jackson City Schools, which has more than 1,400 students on the program, has had 11 snow days.

And this is happening all around the state.

So what can be done about it?
Not much, according to Hamler-Fugitt, unless changes are made at the federal level. These meals are purchased and prepared with money from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The USDA has a rule that meals are not allowed to be delivered or distributed off of school grounds.

The Ohio Association of Foodbanks has asked the USDA to waive this rule. Gov. John Kasich has also sent a letter to the federal department to support this effort. Hamler-Fugitt recognizes the other issues that come with snow days and hopes this problem can be included in the policy discussion.

“So when we’ve talked about the calamity days here at the Statehouse and increasing the number and schools talking about sending those ‘blizzard bags’ home with homework in them—there’s no food in those bags and certainly that’s something that we think that needs to be addressed.”

The USDA declined to comment for this story.

Local groups try to step in
While the federal department has yet to change its rules, local groups are finding other ways to get meals out to kids. Communities have created programs with help from the state and private organizations to prepare and deliver food in the summer, without the help of the USDA.

Hamler-Fugitt believes the rough winter will have a major overall impact to low-income Ohioans who are taking unpaid time off of work to take care of their kids when school’s called off.

“So it has a compounding impact on low-income families not only are the kids missing out on those critical and nutritional school lunch and breakfast programs but often it means that the family is going to see their income drop—the paycheck is going to be lighter.”

Back in southeast Ohio, Rogers says concerned individuals can help by connecting with their local school districts and food banks. As she explains, there are several ways to get involved, including a program to send kids home with backpacks full of food for weekends.

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook




Stories with Recent Comments

HOF's Canton expansion could take an island and make it a village
I live in the block from Broad St to the Hall of Fame and will be impacted by the expansion. I am in the process of selling my home and planned to long before i...

Cleveland redeploys police to replace rejected red-light traffic cameras
Periodic rotational enforcement without warning does NOT change behavior and the city officials know that. This is the basis of all officer-run enforcement trap...

New enrollment period offers more insurance options
The removal of federal funding for healthcare CO-OPs may limit the growth of the CO-OP movement. http://www.healthcaretownhall.com/?p=6381

The family of Boardman vet killed in Vietnam receives his medals
My name is Mike Eisenbraun. I am Larry's brother. I was 14 years old when Larry was killed in Vietnam. He has been gone for 46 years but it seems like yester...

Cleveland seniors are creating new wealth -- and facing new challenges
Why is anyone surprised that we people over 65 are not retiring? If you have been paying attention, defined company funded pensions were phasing out in the eigh...

Ohio company cuts off a dairy supplier after allegations of animal abuse
these people should be held accountable for their actions. i would be more than pleased to see a year or more behind bars. i will NEVER eat anything that comes ...

Goodyear recruits thousands of vets
What a wonderful interview! Excellent reporting skills by a talented young reporter! I look forward to hearing more from Ms. Schley!

Ohio Democratic Party begins the rebuilding process
I agree 100% with Sen. Brown. I think it is absolutely critical for the Democratic Party in Ohio to engage in the long, tedious, hard task of re-building from t...

They're talking again in the Macedonia bridge dispute
Norfolk Southern says the Ledge road bridge meets regulations for train traffic, however it was built as an overpass for a roadway and/or farm usage. I think t...

Cleveland City Council to consider transgender public restroom law
this is sick. I do not want my daughter in the same bathroom as a perverted 45 year old man. this proposed legislation could seriously damage the security of ch...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University