Dinner Service

Free dinner service offered across district
Posted on 10/01/2019
Janice Vincent and Angie Kearbey serve hot ravioli to elementary students  at O’Neal.

Chartwells began offering dinner services for free last week at five additional school sites where after school enrichment programs and services such as tutoring, club activities and latch-key are available to all students. 

Approved sites under Missouri’s At-Risk Afterschool Program include the Kindergarten Center from 3:55-4:30 p.m., Oak Grove and O’Neal Elementary from 3:50-4:30 p.m., Junior High from 4-4:30 p.m., and Poplar Bluff High School from 5-5:30 p.m.

Students participating in athletics or band can receive meals to go, which “is going to touch a lot of lives,” Assistant Superintendent of Business Dr. Amy Jackson reported Thursday, Sept. 19, during the school board meeting. Superintendent Dr. Scott Dill added that the meals would be “nutritionally balanced,” as opposed to vending machine snacks.

Chartwells, a long-standing partner of the R-I school district, received a total of $15,000 in grant funding through No Kid Hungry Missouri in order to purchase backup ovens, as well as warmers and coolers to create the storage space necessary to serve the additional meals. 

So far 260 dinners are being served daily by kitchen personnel, officials have recorded. Dinner is already available at Eugene Field, Lake Road and the Middle School for students who participate in ‘power hour’ through the Boys and Girls Club on campus. 

“Mom or dad may have to work until 5 or 6,” explained Dixie Harden, food services director. “Now you know your child has had something to eat and you’re not in rush mode when you get home to feed them, because you no longer have to worry about your child being hungry.” 

Dinner through Missouri’s At-Risk Afterschool Program, administered by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, is federally-reimbursable under the United States Department of Agriculture since the approved schools serve at least 50 percent of children eligible for free and reduced-price meals. 

Following summer school, Chartwells provided children a total of 8,500 meals for lunch and breakfast at Poplar Bluff Head Start and Wheatley School with help from a near $5,000 grant under the same initiative, in cooperation with Family and Community Trust. Meals served throughout July exceeded 10,000 counting those offered through the BGC, Harden reported. Chartwells also sponsors the district Mule Packs program, distributing around 150 bags of nonperishables bimonthly to students in need. 

“When you’re in the cafeteria, you can tell when kids are hungry, and to know some kids may not get a meal when they go home [drives] me,” said Harden, noting that dinner is optional if students have arrangements afterward. “I love challenges and am blessed to have the team I have and be able to help in these ways.” 

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Cutline: Janice Vincent (forefront) and Angie Kearbey of Chartwells serve hot ravioli to elementary students on Thursday, Sept. 26, at O’Neal.

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