(WBIR-Maryville) We're continuing our look into Knox County Schools' proposal for a so-called balanced school year.
One group who says it could mean more food for hundreds of students.
This is all part of the system's five-year Strategic Plan. The current calendar includes a 60-day summer break. Under the balanced calendar plan, summer break would go down to 30 days, but students would still spend the same number of days in school and see longer breaks throughout the year. The earliest that plan could happen would be the 2016-2017 school year.
For some families, it's a struggle to provide meals outside of school - that's where programs like Second Harvest come in - sending kids home with a backpack of nutritious food to cover them for the span of the weekend.
Currently it's a struggle covering just that gap. This move could make it easier to help out during those long summer months.
Second Harvest Youth Programs Manager Sam Compton says meeting the needs of hungry kids is hard to do without teachers.
"Insight into which ones might have a real need. They see kids rushing food lines, hoarding food from the lunchroom, taking food from other kids' trays and unfortunately it's not uncommon to see kids taking food from trash cans," Compton explained.
The food for kids effort began back in 2003 as a pilot program in Scott County.
It now serves 10,000 children in schools across East Tennessee.
"Teachers and other staff get a feel for which kids might be missing meals on a regular basis, they'll get a backpack full of healthy and kid friendly food to pull them through the weekend when they might be missing meals," said Compton.
During the school year Second Harvest uses everything from church groups, to Boys and Girls Clubs, and even housing authorities to reach kids in need. Compton believes that going to a balanced calendar may make things easier on kids and families who might be struggling to find food.
"When they're not in school it becomes very difficult to reach them. In the summer for example we serve more than 10,000 kids through the regular school year. But our summer food for kids program, despite our best effort, is only able to reach about 3,600 of those kids. If there were a shorter gap in those summer months, it might mean we would be able to help those kids who otherwise we wouldn't be able to help."