After school meal program helping students in McDonald County

District gives out more than 1700 after school meals a day

MCDONALD COUNTY, Mo. – Hectic is a pretty good way to describe the kitchen and cafeteria at McDonald County High School right after lunch.

The kitchen crew works to clean up from serving lunch to more than a thousand students so they can start making meals for the school’s new after school meals program.

The program makes it so that students across the area can get a meal right after their last class, instead of going home hungry.

“This is a very rural part of the state with low income. If the students are hungry, they will eat. And I’m seeing a lot of kids come to eat because they’re hungry,” says Janie Daugherty, Nutrition Director for the school district.

The school district started the program in early January, and they already serve more than 300 meals a day, just at the high school.

High school kitchen director Jennifer Briley says she’s happy to put in the work because of how much it helps kids like hers.

“Before they were starving and would ravage through everything before I could get anything made for dinner. Now, they’re okay. And then at about 5:30, 6 o’clock, they’re like we’re hungry. So, it’s very nice for a parent that works later,” says Briley.

And according to students, the benefits go beyond that.

Students say that it helps to have the extra meal before doing extra-curricular school activities and that it even helps them concentrate better when working on homework.

“You get to like eat before you go home, and therefore you have more time to like do your homework, and get eating out of the way,” says 9th grader Avoleen Joseph.

“Some parents don’t have the money to afford food, and it’s just a fresh start and it’s helping the community,” says 111th grader Brianna White.

So while it may mean extra work, Briley says seeing the impact it has on students and parents alike makes it more than worth it.

“I’ve had several kids come up and say thank you. So it’s very very rewarding,” says Briley.

The district gives out more than 1700 after school meals each day.

The program is paid for by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services.