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East Baton Rouge Schools Maintain Summer Meal Program Amid State's Rejection of USDA EBT Initiative

Updated: Feb 27

BATON ROUGE, La. — Despite Louisiana's decision to forgo the USDA's summer EBT program, East Baton Rouge Public Schools remain committed to providing meals for students during the summer break, ensuring continuity in feeding vulnerable children, according to Dr. Nichola Hall of EBR Public Schools.

"Summer meals existed before the summer EBT program; it's always been around. It is a great way to make sure the kids are being continually fed even when school is out of session," Hall stated.

The program, with an estimated food cost of $292,000, will proceed as planned, thanks to partnerships with organizations like One Rouge Coalition and Healthy BR, leveraging grants and donations to facilitate the initiative. Hope Hickerson of Healthy BR outlined their intention to execute a robust marketing campaign to raise awareness. At the same time, Pepper Roussel of One Rouge Coalition emphasized the goal of fostering an inclusive community culture for equitable opportunities for all Baton Rouge residents.

Approximately 25,000 students in East Baton Rouge qualify for free meals, with the program intending to expand its reach compared to the previous year when 85 sites were established. The objective this year is to serve an even larger student population.

Food insecurity can significantly impact children's academic performance, affecting concentration, memory, mood, and motor skills essential for success in school.

"We say we want children to be successful and do well in school, but how can they do that if they're not eating or hungry?" Roussel questioned. "There's no way to do that. There's an old African proverb -- if you want to go fast, you go alone; if you want to go far, go together. That's exactly what we're doing; we are going far, and we are going together."


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