Park Middle School offers new dinner program

By: Kali Nicole

A new program is being offered that is aimed at low income schools in Lincoln. It's made possible by a federal program, and although the one going on now is only a guinea pig, staff says they can see it spreading out and changing a lot of lives.

It's Jonha Pillow's typical routine in the Park Middle School cafeteria, except now, it's 5 p.m. Pillow says the food tastes even better when not everyone is around. “You get enough to fill you up, but if you don't want something you can give it to someone else and they can finish it. At school you can't do that,” he said.

Jonha is just one of around 100 students participating in a new pilot program at Park. It's one that provides supper to students who are there late for after-school activities, specifically the Boys and Girls Club.

It was club staff and the school's principal who came to LPS asking for the program. At Park, 72 percent of students qualify for free or discounted lunches, and even their breakfast program.

It's only the second week the program has been in place, but so far it looks like this could be a program other schools in Lincoln could qualify for, making the quality of life for LPS students even better.

“I know some of these students have touched my heart the first day saying thank you so much for providing food for us, so it really makes you think about the life they have at home. Sometimes there's not food there or sometimes the parents are busy working but if we can help will them up this program is all worth it.”

Only at risk schools are eligible for this program. That's when 50 percent or more of students are on the free or reduced lunch program. LPS says they plan to see how the program goes at park for about a year before considering branching it out to other schools.