Prince George’s County Public Schools will no longer provide free student suppers, sparking fears of increased hunger among youth in need.
Take-home suppers — which are separate from the after-school food program — will no longer be offered, starting next week.
School officials cited supply chain problems. Manufacturers and distributors dealing with factory closings, backlogs and job vacancies can’t fill all orders from school districts, the district CEO said.
Parent Phyllis Wright has two children in the school district. She said she’s worried about food insecurity among students.
“My daughter came home one day and she said, ‘Ma, one of my classmates was crying because she didn’t have anything to eat,’” Wright said.
She and other parents once helped close a food gap for students by going into their own pockets and buying hundreds of restaurant gift cards.
Edward Burroughs III, District 8 school board member, said he’s already hearing from families left in the lurch.
“Students can’t learn if they’re hungry,” he said.
“It is our responsibility as a school district to provide every service that we possibly can for our students, including this one,” Burroughs added.
He said he spoke with a number of food service companies that could potentially help.
Wright asked officials and families to come together on behalf of kids.
“We can help out just to do a little bit more. Just a little bit more. We need this extra kick for these children. Like i said, some of these children — that might be the only meal that they get,” she said.
The Department of Agriculture has loosened some of its regulations on meal content and contracting to help ease the effects of the supply chain problems.
Prince George's County school officials say other meal programs will continue, though there could be changes to the menus.