Food for Thought
Students cannot focus on academics if their stomachs are empty. That’s why the Food Services Department of Petersburg City Public Schools works to ensure that children receive nutritious meals.
Free meals for all students
Free breakfasts and lunches are provided for every Petersburg student as part of the Community Eligibility Provision of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Starting on the first day of school and continuing every day that school is in session, Petersburg students receive free nutritious breakfasts and lunches. Petersburg was one of the first two districts to qualify when the program became available in Virginia; 2014-15 was the first school year that Petersburg was covered by the Community Eligibility Provision. The breakfasts are grab-and-go, allowing students to select their breakfast as they arrive at school and eat it in their classroom. This allows an earlier start for instruction. Lunches are served and eaten in school cafeterias.
The Community Eligibility Provision allows school districts with high percentages of low-income children to drop the complicated application process for families and offer free breakfasts and lunches to all students. This improves access to nutritious meals, simplifies life for families, cuts down on time spent in cashier lines and eliminates any stigma attached to the “free and reduced-price meal” label. The Community Eligibility Provision continues over the summer so students can continue to receive free breakfasts and lunches at summer school and other sites. Click here to learn more about this federal program.
Trying something new
Westview Early Childhood Education Center and all four elementary schools participate annually in a federal program that provides samples of fresh fruits and vegetables throughout the school year. Through the Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, students can sample delicious and nutritious foods they might not otherwise encounter, such as kiwi fruit, fresh pineapple and spinach.
The Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program is an important tool in efforts to combat childhood obesity by successfully introducing children to a variety of produce that they otherwise might not sample. Click here for more information about this federal program.
Vernon Johns Middle School significantly increased student breakfast participation to win the Virginia Breakfast Challenge in its category. The school will receive $1,000 and a celebratory banner. The Virginia Breakfast Challenge is a campaign to increase the number of students who eat breakfast. Research shows that hunger has serious consequences for children, including lower test scores, weaker attendance rates and higher risk of hospitalization and chronic diseases. Click here for more details.
Food Service Supervisor Donna Johnson was selected in December 2016 to represent central Virginia as a member of the Virginia School Nutrition Advisory Council. The council was established by the Office of School Nutrition Programs of the Virginia Department of Education to promote leadership and collaboration and improve processes and communications within the state. The 10 members of the statewide council share best practices, engage in peer-to-peer learning and collaborate with other professional organizations.