Montgomery County board OKs free meals at most schools

In a microcosm of discussions taking place all over Kentucky and much of America, a divided Montgomery County Board of Education decided Aug. 19 to offer free meals to all children in the county’s elementary schools and its Early Learning Center.

By another 3-2 vote, the board defeated a motion to offer free meals at those schools and the county’s intermediate school, one of the two options recommended by the district’s food-services director.

It did not vote on a much more expensive option of offering free meals at all the county’s schools, including Montgomery County High School, or on the other recommended option, to offer the meals at only one elementary and the Early Learning Center. Board Member Sharon Smith-Breiner, who supported the program generally, said she couldn’t support singling out one elementary, Tom Marshall reports for the Mount Sterling Advocate.

Board Member Kenny Gulley, who opposed all the options, “told fellow board members that he couldn’t support the decision because it provides free meals to students whose parents have been deemed capable of paying and there is no evidence that they are not being fed,” Marshall reports.

Board Member Alice Anderson, who voted yes on both motions, “responded that at least this way the board can ensure that they are fed,” Marshall writes. “Smith-Breiner cited as one of the advantages of the move being the potential to boost the school attendance rate and test-score improvement.”
Under guidelines of the federal National School Lunch Program, the district must commit for a period for four years with the ability to opt out,” Marshall notes. “Food
services director Julie Tuttle . . . said the board can reevaluate the success of the program next April.”
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