Monday, June 25, 2018
Education

Free dinners will be served at four Hillsborough schools

TAMPA — The role of the school lunch program is expanding again.

After adding universal free breakfast a decade ago, the Hillsborough County School District is about to offer free dinner at four high-poverty schools.

The program, approved at Tuesday's School Board meeting, is part of a national effort that is supported by antihunger organizations but derided by some conservative leaders. "Why even send the kids home?" radio host Rush Limbaugh asked on his show.

But supporters embrace any steps the school system can take to combat hunger and help children stay on task.

"How can you argue against a child being hungry and having the opportunity for them to be fed?" said School Board member Doretha Edgecomb. "You've got to have some humanity."

Hunger can affect any child, she said, not just one who has grown up in poverty. "There could be an illness in the family. There could be a divorce. There are numerous things that can happen in a child's life."

The bottom line, said Ginain Grayes, marketing specialist for the district's student nutrition program, is that "if children are hungry, guess what? They're not learning in the classroom."

Not only that, but according to the United States Department of Agriculture, which funds the program, regular meals and snacks can encourage children and teenagers to spend their after-school hours in constructive, safe activities.

The four elementary schools chosen in Hillsborough all have populations that are more than 95 percent low income, measured by their participation in the free lunch program: Just, Sulphur Springs, Potter, and B.T. Washington.

The cutoff for the program is a 50 percent poverty rate.

At all four schools, large numbers of children remain on campus throughout the afternoon for tutoring, academic enrichment and cultural programs.

"I think it's a great idea," said Carolyn Hill, principal of Just Elementary School, which draws almost entirely from public housing families.

The nation's after-school nutrition program originated in 2000 and got a major boost in 2010 with passage of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act.

As with Hillsborough's free breakfast program, it requires no application process. To qualify, a student simply needs to be enrolled in both the school and an after-school program.

The dinner program could begin as early as April, Grayes said. If it is successful in the first year, the district will consider expanding it to other high-poverty schools.

"For a lot of these children, the meals they receive at school are the only meals they receive," Grayes said. "It's hard to fathom, but that's just the reality of things."

Marlene Sokol can be reached at [email protected] or (813) 226-3356.

Comments
Next step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

Next step for Hillsborough schools facing biggest challenges: Hire more teachers

TAMPA — As chief of diversity for the Hillsborough County School District, Minerva Spanner-Morrow tries to keep her expectations realistic. "We want the best of the best and I know that’s very difficult," she told principals last week as...
Updated: 10 hours ago
USF student, veteran and reservist wins a Pat Tillman Scholarship

USF student, veteran and reservist wins a Pat Tillman Scholarship

TAMPA — The Pat Tillman Foundation has named Stephanie Bauman, a University of South Florida student and member of the U.S. Army Reserve, a 2018 Tillman Military Scholar.Bauman is one of 60 military service veterans and military spouses from across t...
Updated: 8 hours ago
Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

Hernando school officials set to discuss replacement, sever ties after firing Superintendent Lori Romano

BROOKSVILLE — With dust still settling from the Hernando County School Board’s close vote to fire Superintendent Lori Romano — and days before her time as head of the district runs out — school officials and community members seem to be already movin...
Published: 06/20/18
Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

Hernando students score slightly better on state tests

BROOKSVILLE — As schools and districts across the state await their 2018 grades from the Florida Department of Education, the standardized test scores that factor into those ratings and were dropped last week show slight gains in Hernando County.The ...
Published: 06/20/18
Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

Budget analysis projects deficit, deepened by security costs, for Pasco schools in coming year

An early analysis of the Pasco County School District’s 2018-2019 budget projects a deficit of more than a million dollars, with more than half of that coming from a shortfall in funding new school safety requirements.Costs to hire and train 53 new s...
Published: 06/20/18
New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

New dorm still coming to USF St. Petersburg, but in a smaller package

ST. PETERSBURG — Originally pitched as a nine- or 10-story, 550-bed dorm for the overcrowded University of South Florida St. Petersburg campus, USF’s latest residence hall project will likely look much different by the time it’s done.For starters, it...
Published: 06/20/18
Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Carlton: From Sun Dome to Beer Stadium: Don’t let suds scare you

Am I missing something in the — pardon the expression — brouhaha over the renaming of the University of South Florida Sun Dome to the Yuengling Center? In trading a college arena’s longtime name for that of a big-name beer brewed ne...
Published: 06/20/18

Hillsborough school district will pursue two kinds of local taxes

TAMPA — Hillsborough County School District officials took an important step Tuesday toward asking the voters to pay higher taxes for schools that, they say, are not getting enough money from the state.The board voted 5-0 to submit a tax referendum r...
Published: 06/19/18
Updated: 06/20/18
STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

STEM camp beats the summer doldrums for some Pasco students

DADE CITY —Just a few weeks into summer vacation, Pasco Middle School student Jade Neal, 14, was back at school, delving into a challenging STEM activity on force in motion, as the theme to Mission Impossible played in the background.The assignment? ...
Updated: 28 minutes ago
Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Ethan Hooper steps up with a salute to teachers

Editor’s note: Ethan Hooper wrote today’s column to give Ernest Hooper Father’s Day off.In May, I graduated from the University of Central Florida with a degree in elementary education, and I recently secured a job as a first-grade teacher with Orang...
Published: 06/18/18