Food Services Director Doug Davis was quoted in the December American School Board Journal Issue: Read full article here
Leading the Way
…The Burlington School District in Vermont is at the forefront of this policy trend. In addition to offering a traditional breakfast and lunch program, the district began serving dinner about five years ago—usually offering these meals soon after the last school bell.
Demand is high for this service, which serves between 850 to 1,000 meals daily across the 4,000-student school district.
“What surprised us is that the meals are not utilized solely by kids who are low income,” says Doug Davis, the district’s director of food services. “There are lots of kids who get to school early in the day, around 7:30, and because of extracurricular activities, they don’t get home until 6 or 7, as there’s so much going on—so many clubs, team sports, and such.”
Despite its popularity, the dinner program was launched to ensure that children from low-income households wouldn’t go hungry at the end of the day, Davis says. While it’s fine that affluent students benefit, they at least will return to homes each evening to a well-stocked kitchen. Some students may find nothing to eat at home—or only junk food.
The needs of low-income students also convinced the district to target the nutritional needs of children on days when school is not in session, he says. During the summer, for example, the district supports a lunch program for children at 25 sites across the city, including recreation centers, summer camps, libraries, school buildings, and even a local park.
“The summer meals are free to all kids, without the need for applications, without the need for forms,” Davis says. “More kids benefit if you can drop the eligibility requirements, and that’s important because there are a lot of kids who need access to nutritious food throughout the summer.”
Children in Burlington are lucky. Nationwide, fewer than one in five school-aged children living in low-income homes participate in summer food programs, despite efforts to educate families that such programs exist—and that their children are eligible to participate.