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Local officials, parents fight to keep cost-free meals coming for kids

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 10:25 AM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - Many people have lost jobs in the past year, putting a strain on families as they try to put food on the table.

To help, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing free meals to all students.

But that program is set to end in September.

For parents like Ellie Payne, packing her daughter’s lunch before school is a daily routine.

“More often than not, we supply her with a school lunch,” Payne said.

“It’s quite a challenge trying to get the right nutrients into your kids.”

That’s why some school nutrition directors and members of the school nutrition association are pushing for healthy meals at no charge.

“We can serve all students, and we are asking them to extend what we are already giving all students -- access to our healthy and nutritious meals,” said Reggie Ross, School Nutrition Association president.

Dr. Dana Bing, the Richmond County School System’s nutrition services assistant director, says giving all students access to free meals could have a positive impact on schools.

“If we were able to receive meals at no cost throughout the CSRA, we would see a dramatic increase in student achievement,” Bing said.

Many Richmond County schools already have access to free lunch, and Bing says this benefits students and parents, eliminating the stigma that follow families who are less fortunate.

“If all were able to receive meals at no cost, it would basically open up a welcoming environment for everyone to receive meals healthy meals,” Bing said.

“I truly believe that providing meals at no cost would be beneficial for everyone throughout the country.”

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