Pulaski County Public Schools to provide free meals to all students for the 2020-2021 school year

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PULASKI COUNTY, Va. (WFXR) — Wednesday marked the last day of Pulaski County’s summer meal delivery program for students. However, the end of summer does not mean the end of free meals.

Pulaski County Public Schools announced on Facebook on Monday, Aug. 10, that for the upcoming school year, breakfast and lunch will be provided to all students at no cost.

Since 2014, Pulaski County Public Schools has been providing free meals to some of its schools as part of its Community Eligibility Program (CEP), but this year the board wanted something more: free meals for the whole district.

“We ran a lot of data and considered a lot of factors, whether or not we could afford to be division-wide,” said Ethelene Sadler, Director of School Nutrition for Pulaski County Public Schools.

The district could afford it. Now, all students will get free breakfast and lunch when they come to class for the upcoming school year.

“We will provide for every student, regardless if they’re virtual or if they’re in school,” Sadler said.

WFXR News followed Sadler on one of her routes for the school’s summer meal program. Families like Robin Haga’s have appreciated the meals being delivered on Mondays and Wednesdays.

“We’re a family of six, so it’s greatly helped us out,” Haga said.

Now, knowing her children will get a hot meal at school is — in Haga’s words — a blessing, not just because it’s at no cost.

“…and it’s good. I mean, it’s not just a cardboard pizza. I mean, it’s… those chicken tenders that they send home. Oh my word! They are delicious,” Haga said. “It’s real chicken. Blueberries, watermelon, I mean, it’s just all good.”

“You can’t learn unless you have the nourishment you need, so they’ll be able to focus better in school, having that provision of a meal for breakfast and for lunch,” Sadler said.

According to Sadler, the district’s team effort resulted in nutritious meals at no cost, which will benefit families like Haga’s. In addition, Sadler says the district is considering a dinner program — on a case-by-case basis — once school starts back up on Sept. 8.

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