Hermantown schools adapt to new free meal program
HERMANTOWN, MN. (Northern News Now) - In March, the Minnesota State Legislatures passed a bill that provides all students with the option of free breakfast and lunch.
Prior to this school year, families had to meet a certain financial need to receive free meals.
Hermantown High School Principal John Muenich believes it is important to consider every student’s needs.
“For Hermantown, I think maybe sometimes we don’t realize that we have that student population here, too, and we have students who need this,” said Muenich.
Muenich hopes the greatest improvement from this change is seen in the classroom.
“It has the potential to affect in a positive way academic performance,” said Muenich. “For students who might get their only meals at school, this should be a benefit for them.”
School leaders said one of the biggest concerns for districts is ordering the correct amount of food while avoiding waste.
Districts have received no guidance from the state so it is up to each one to make their best educated guess on how to serve their students.
“For us, it’s mostly scheduling, because you know, and even right now, we don’t know exactly how many students will take advantage of it,” said Wayne Whitwam, Hermantown School District Superintendent. “Just trying to figure out how we, if everybody takes advantage of it, how we make sure we have space available and we can get enough students through that line.”
Schools are happy to be able to provide students with a free meal but also want to keep their schedules on track.
“We want to make sure we’re not impacting instruction, the whole idea of eating breakfast and lunch is to help students,” said Whitwam. “So we want to make sure we’re not taking away from instructional time.”
Schools will plan as much as they can but know a new program like this will take time to ace.
“It’s just one more step in taking care of our students,” said Whitwam. “As educators, it’s what our primary role is. We want to educate them but we take care of them.”
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