Fueling stomachs, hearts, and minds of students is what school nutrition directors do best. Some are concerned this will be a lot more difficult if child nutrition waivers expire this summer. In Surry County Schools, there’s a lot of pride in preparing delicious and nutritious meals for students. “This isn’t just a job. It’s a passion for us to serve children and to feed children healthy meals,” school nutrition Director Sherri Parks said. Parks comes to work every day with hopes of helping every child feel ready to learn. She says the pandemic has created many challenges for families, which include putting hot meals on the table. “We see on Monday mornings especially, when kids are gone for the weekend, my staff and I always notice the kids who do not have access to good nutrition over the weekend. They are literally starving on Monday morning and we see that a lot,” she said. Throughout the pandemic, students have been able to eat at no cost in Surry County, along with school districts across the country. It’s because of child nutrition waivers and Parks said since those waivers were not included in the 1.5 trillion dollar spending bill passed by Congress in early March, the district will have to look at alternatives to keep children fed. “Now, we are looking at going back to the traditional funding. We’re looking at going back to charging parents for their meals, separating children into categories — free, reduced and paid. And we just feel like that is not a good idea for our kids,” Parks said. Foster Caviness distributes food to nearly every school district in the state of North Carolina. Chief Operating Officer Scott Bland explained why he thinks the waivers are vital resources. “Allow us to, based on nutritional criteria, supplement and substitute components of the menu. Whereas prior to that, there was a very regimented kind of structured guideline and we understand the need for that and its value. Not negating that. But in this kind of climate that we are in, the market being what it is, and through the pressures that exist, those products aren’t available,” Bland said. Bland said supply chain issues have only made the situation worse. “We are going to be restricted to contracted growers and the larger growers that can actually meet the demand and that’s going to inflate costs. Which is going to result in fewer meals and fewer healthy products on the plates of our kids,” he said. For Parks, she urges parents, teachers and families to push legislators to pass the bipartisan Senate and House legislation called “Support Kids Not Red-Tape Act” which would allow the USDA to extend child nutrition waivers. “For two years, we flexed and we did everything we needed to do to make sure our kids were well fed. So now, to come up and have a lack of support, we have been there for everyone and now we need folks to be there for us,” Parks said.WXII 12 News reached out to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office for comment regarding Surry County Schools initiative to push congress to pass “Support Kids Not Red-Tape Act,” press secretary Jordan Monaghan said the governor is supportive of all efforts to expand free school breakfast and lunch programs and that they are monitoring the legislation. The child nutrition waivers are set to expire on June 30.

Fueling stomachs, hearts, and minds of students is what school nutrition directors do best. Some are concerned this will be a lot more difficult if child nutrition waivers expire this summer.

In Surry County Schools, there’s a lot of pride in preparing delicious and nutritious meals for students.

“This isn’t just a job. It’s a passion for us to serve children and to feed children healthy meals,” school nutrition Director Sherri Parks said.

Parks comes to work every day with hopes of helping every child feel ready to learn. She says the pandemic has created many challenges for families, which include putting hot meals on the table.

“We see on Monday mornings especially, when kids are gone for the weekend, my staff and I always notice the kids who do not have access to good nutrition over the weekend. They are literally starving on Monday morning and we see that a lot,” she said.

Throughout the pandemic, students have been able to eat at no cost in Surry County, along with school districts across the country. It’s because of child nutrition waivers and Parks said since those waivers were not included in the 1.5 trillion dollar spending bill passed by Congress in early March, the district will have to look at alternatives to keep children fed.

“Now, we are looking at going back to the traditional funding. We’re looking at going back to charging parents for their meals, separating children into categories — free, reduced and paid. And we just feel like that is not a good idea for our kids,” Parks said.

Foster Caviness distributes food to nearly every school district in the state of North Carolina. Chief Operating Officer Scott Bland explained why he thinks the waivers are vital resources.

“Allow us to, based on nutritional criteria, supplement and substitute components of the menu. Whereas prior to that, there was a very regimented kind of structured guideline and we understand the need for that and its value. Not negating that. But in this kind of climate that we are in, the market being what it is, and through the pressures that exist, those products aren’t available,” Bland said.

Bland said supply chain issues have only made the situation worse.

“We are going to be restricted to contracted growers and the larger growers that can actually meet the demand and that’s going to inflate costs. Which is going to result in fewer meals and fewer healthy products on the plates of our kids,” he said.

For Parks, she urges parents, teachers and families to push legislators to pass the bipartisan Senate and House legislation called “Support Kids Not Red-Tape Act” which would allow the USDA to extend child nutrition waivers.

“For two years, we flexed and we did everything we needed to do to make sure our kids were well fed. So now, to come up and have a lack of support, we have been there for everyone and now we need folks to be there for us,” Parks said.

WXII 12 News reached out to Gov. Roy Cooper’s office for comment regarding Surry County Schools initiative to push congress to pass “Support Kids Not Red-Tape Act,” press secretary Jordan Monaghan said the governor is supportive of all efforts to expand free school breakfast and lunch programs and that they are monitoring the legislation.

The child nutrition waivers are set to expire on June 30.