Snow days causing thousands of schoolchildren to miss meals

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TRI-CITIES, TN/VA (WJHL)- Thousands of schoolchildren are probably breaking out their snow dances and engaging in some fierce snowball fights, but News Channel 11 found out that snow days aren’t always fun for kids in our region — especially those that are worried about where their next meal will come from.

Wretha Winters is babysitting her grandchildren that are out of school, due to inclement weather. She said the kids are enjoying “sleeping late, staying up late, playing, and just having a good time.”

That’s probably the focus of most kids in our region on snow days, but thousands of others are worrying about one thing in particular –  hunger.

Director of Communications for Johnson City Schools, Debra Bentley, said, “On a day like this, when school is closed, obviously there are services that normally are provided for those children that are not available –  mainly meals.”

Every day that kids aren’t in school is another day that kids aren’t being fed.

Bentley said, “We serve, on a daily basis, 1500 breakfasts, 4500 lunches, and over 900 snacks. So, when school is closed: those meals, those snacks are not available.”

That’s just the number of meals from one city school district.

Community Relations Director for Second Harvest Food Bank, Kathy Smith, said, “The charities that we serve report back to us every month how many people they’re serving and right now that’s 43,000 people a month in the eight counties that rely on a food pantry or soup kitchen for their food.”

Smith says that more people are in need during times of bad weather. She said, “We just received a call yesterday from a family that had no food in the home and they normally use a food pantry and were counting on going but because of the weather they weren’t able to do so.”

Bentley said, “Knowing that many of our students will not have a meal, perhaps, that day is a concern … however, we do believe that safety comes first when we talk about inclement weather.”

Smith says local efforts are making a world of difference to those in need. She said, “I believe that Second Harvest does a great service to the eight county area and I think without us a lot of people would be going hungry.”

Follow this link to find the food pantry or soup kitchen nearest you: http://www.netfoodbank.org/Copyright 2015 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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