MADISON, Wis. — There’s nothing virtual about feeding students. As Madison Metropolitan School District students prepare to start the year virtually only a small fraction of families have used meal sites.
14,329 MMSD students qualify for the federal free and reduced meal program. On average last spring, MMSD distributed 1,619 lunches a day through their meal sites. District officials have not yet provided News 3 Now with a reason for the low usage of sites.
MMSD has several meal sites across the city where district families can pick up breakfast and lunches. From March 16th to June 19th, the district distributed 223,264 meals. A summer meal program is also offered, but not used as much. 19 sites are offered across the district.
MMSD Food & Nutrition Summer Meal Program begins on June 22! Free, healthy meals for kids will be available at school & community sites across the city.
🍎 Maintain social distancing
🍏 No meals consumed on site
🍎 Breakfast + lunch provided at same time
🍏 Ages 18 & under pic.twitter.com/r8LyRbQhl1
— Madison Schools (WI) (@MMSDschools) June 16, 2020
News 3 Now visited the pickup site at Jefferson Middle school where only three families stopped to get meals.
“It depends on the day. It’s hit or miss,” says food service worker Jennifer Lampi. “Other food sites are more popular. I’m not sure why this one’s not popular,” she added.
School lunches often provide critical nutrition for children in lower-income families.
“For kids, routines are much important and regular balanced access to healthy food is crucial for that brain development, their ability to focus in schools,” says U.W. Health Pediatric Nutritionist Camila Martin.
Martin offers the following advice for parents to build healthy school year habits:
• Start with a balanced breakfast. This provides calories that support growth, brain development, and focus throughout the morning. Studies have linked breakfast with better test scores and a reduced risk of learning difficulties.
• Breakfast ideas: Whole-grain cereal with milk or a non-dairy alternative, oatmeal with nuts and fruit, eggs with avocado and whole-grain toast, or yogurt with granola and fruit.
• Avoid sugar-sweetened beverages. Regular consumption of juice, fruit-flavored drinks and soda is associated with lower academic performance.
• Beverage ideas: Try adding flavors to water (or sparkling water) with fruits and herbs and letting it sit in the refrigerator for an hour or two.
• Include fruits or vegetables with every meal and aim for 5 servings a day. One study showed that students with a higher intake of fruits and vegetables were less likely to fail literacy assessments than students with intake below the recommended 5 servings per day.
• Schedule snack times and use snacks to help boost energy and focus on mealtimes and virtual learning activities.
• Snack ideas: fruit, yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, veggies and a yogurt-based dip, unsalted trail mix, or hummus and whole-grain crackers.
• To avoid grazing or eating out of boredom, pair food groups together to stay full longer between meals.