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Blount County Schools raising money for kids who do not qualify for free or reduced lunch

Data from The U.S Department of Agriculture show that 30 million kids rely on school meals to eat every day.

BLOUNT COUNTY, Tenn. — The Blount County Schools' nutrition program is raising money to help kids who may not qualify for free and reduced lunch but still may face food insecurity outside of school.

"We would attempt to raise the money necessary, to where we could keep all students attending Blount County Schools, to continue to receive free breakfast and also free lunches during the school year,' said Ron Thames, the president of the Blount County School Nutrition Association.

For two years during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal waivers ensured students across the country ate for free at school. Those waivers stopped over the summer. But Thames said he would not let the U.S. Congress stop them from feeding their students — especially while the price of food rises.

"Parents are now having to work into their schedule their children's costs for their meals," said Thames. "What we're looking at is we're trying to raise $2.5 million dollars."

It is all through the Feeding Our Kids campaign. The Blount County School Nutrition Association told the school board that it was starting the campaign during their Sept. 1 meeting.

"We know that there are families whose children only eat at school. We see it every day," said Karen Helton, the nutrition coordinator for Blount County Schools. "We're taking individual donations, donations for businesses, or you can do an 'in memory of' or an 'in honor of' donation." 

Data from The U.S Department of Agriculture show that around 30 million kids rely on school meals a day. According to Feeding America, around 1 in 6 children are food insecure across Tennessee — a total of around 233,620 children.

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