BUCKHANNON – Upshur County Schools will offer food boxes and hot meals for all children under 18 this summer.
Superintendent of Upshur County Schools Dr. Sara Lewis Stankus and Director of Wellness and Child Nutrition Eddie Vincent attended the June 3 Upshur County Commission meeting to discuss upcoming summer programs.
“It’s just so exciting to be able to do the things that we’re going to be able to do with the COVID money we received, and although the pandemic brought so many challenges, it has brought us many opportunities, and many very positive initiatives have come out of this pandemic,” Stankus said.
Stankus outlined their plans for the summer learning academies that will kick off June 14 and will run through July 15.
“One of the things we are really focused on with our Summer Learning Academies is not just the fact students will be brought to school four days a week, but three days a week, they will be doing project-based learning activities and on the fourth day, we will be taking a field trip from every school in the county,” Stankus said. “We’ll be taking our students to different places, not only in West Virginia, but outside of West Virginia – the Pittsburgh Zoo, the Carnegie Science Center, all the places that you can think of that tourists may go to.”
The Upshur Board of Education and the Upshur County Commission have also worked together to offer free family season passes to the Upshur County Recreation Park, and free family season passes to the West Virginia Wildlife Center for Upshur County students.
“That’s to get our families out, to get our children off the couch and away from the screen,” Stankus explained. “We want them out, we want them to engage in our community. We live in one of the most beautiful places in the world and why would we not have our families out and enjoying Upshur County? We want to keep our money here, and we want to invest in our families and our children.”
The free season passes may be picked up at the Upshur BOE office at 102 Smithfield Street in Buckhannon from Monday through Friday between the hours of 8:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Vincent said about one year ago, he was the principal at Buckhannon-Upshur High School, but in July, when his current position became available, he was interested in the wellness aspect of his new role.
“I got involved in the food delivery program because of the pandemic, so we were doing all kinds of things; we were delivering stuff on buses and in warehouse boxes,” Vincent said. “In July, an opportunity opened up and if it was just child nutrition, I probably would have a stayed as principal, but the wellness component to this job intrigued me.”
Vincent said starting June 14, children under the age of 18 can receive food boxes at the school system’s warehouse in Tennerton every Wednesday this summer from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
“Our kids can come to the warehouse and get three-day boxes and five-day boxes, and now we’re going to provide a seven- and eight-day box,” Vincent said. “Multitude Foods, which is partnered with Wendling’s, is providing these boxes for students, and there are 14 meals in those boxes. The largest box is now loaded with 14 meals, so seven breakfasts and lunches, with milk and juice.”
Beginning June 14, all schools in Upshur County will also offer hot meals. Breakfast will start at 9 a.m. and lunch will start at noon each Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, except on the Fourth of July.
“Every one of our nine schools is considered an open site, so what that means any kid under 18, whether they are in school or not – they can be homeschooled – can go to any of our schools at 9 a.m. in the morning on those dates and have a hot breakfast and a hot lunch provided by our school cooks,” Vincent said. “Even if you’re a high school kid, you can go to an elementary school and get breakfast or lunch.”