Columbia Public Schools have decided to make a difference within their high schools and community. In recent years, many teachers and other administrators have been providing food for their students who had to stay late for after school activities. To address this issue, on Sept. 5, the school districts of Columbia began piloting an evening dinner meal for students staying after school for clubs, athletics or special events.
Michelle Baumstark, community relations director for Columbia Public Schools, said that the dinner will cost $2.90 per student and individual snack and la carte options will be available as well. The menu was selected by popular vote of the students. Favorite meals chosen include tacos and chicken patties. Baumstark said students can pay for the meal with cash, or they can charge it directly to the their meal accounts. The service will be open from 4:30 to 7:30 p.m., Monday through Thursday, and will vary on Fridays. The hot meal can also qualify for free or reduced pricing.
The high schools offering evening meals are Hickman, Rock Bridge, and Battle, but the program may expand to additional schools in the future. The students at these schools will use their student ID to obtain their meals through the cafeteria. The dinner meals are also available to parents and other visitors for $3.60 each.
“This is a great opportunity for our students,” said Hickman High School principal Eric Johnson. “The school day is quite long as we are in school from 8:55 a.m. to 4:05 p.m. Half of our students at Hickman eat lunch at 10:30 in the morning. If they are in after school activities, they wait quite a while before they can receive their next meal. Having on-campus offerings allows students the opportunity to refuel before or after their activities. Furthermore, it serves as a buffer for some students who may not receive a balanced dinner once they get home.”
Currently, the cost of the program is being covered by the price charged for the hot meals. But the administrators of Columbia Public High Schools hope to receive funding from the school district or the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the future.