Each year, thousands of mid-Michigan students get school breakfast and lunch for free or at a discount. Leaders met on Friday to talk about how to keep those kids fed over school breaks, especially the summer.
With summer vacation getting closer, the pressure is on to keep students fed.
Representative Tim Walberg met with leaders at Grass Lake Elementary School where nearly a quarter of students there receive free or low-cost meals. He says rural areas like Grass Lake face unique challenges providing food for students, especially over school breaks.
“There are a lot of programs in our major cities and we’re thankful for those,” Walberg said. “But we can’t forget about the fact that in rural districts you have some of the similar family issues. You just have longer distances where they would have to go to get their resources.”
In Lansing, Dr. Joan Jackson Johnson works with the Greater Lansing Food Bank and grocery stores to get those meals to families in need, including students, through mobile food pantries. She says people have come from as far as Jackson and Mt. Pleasant to find help, but she’s never turned them away, and says she has no plans to.
“If someone comes out and we’re doing something, and they haven’t eaten, I ignore the zip codes,” Jackson said. “If you’re here and there’s a need and there are kids involved, you know, how can you?”
Congressman Walberg says he plans to talk about the affordable lunch issue with U.S. Education Secretary Betsy Devos in the near future, especially focsing on summer break. But here in mid-Michigan, school and city officials say they’ll keep working together to do whatever it takes to feed students and families.