, Muskogee, OK

June 27, 2013

Children need fuel to learn

— Children need nutritious food to grow both their bodies and their minds.

Much of that nutrition comes from meals served at school.

Unfortunately, Muskogee Public Schools have had to eliminate some free meals and raise the prices of others because of rising costs.

Everyone who pays bills understands the concept of rising costs and flat or falling wages.

MPS is no different.

A federal regulation requires schools to charge full-price meal prices at the same rate as the district is reimbursed for free meals.

That requires an increase.

It is not exactly a secret to say Muskogee’s general population is poor.

Eighty percent of students in the MPS district qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

School children are going to feel the (hunger) pain of the regulation.

The district served free breakfasts for every child through the eighth grade.

That program was wonderful for those children who needed to use it.

It gave them a fighting chance to be ready to learn.

Try going hungry for just a day and see how it affects your cognitive skills.

You may find that is difficult to focus. You may find it is more difficult to do the same routine tasks as you do every day.

Now imagine how much going hungry affects a child.

MPS needs to continue to explore every possible way to get the free breakfasts and free lunches for all students at Whittier, Irving and Cherokee elementary schools.

It is imperative that the community — including nonprofit and churches — help find a way to help children eat and learn.