Catoosa Keeps Cafeteria Open To Students Despite School Closure

When winter weather hits Green Country, districts are forced to make a tough decision. About 75% of Catoosa Public Schools students qualify for free or reduced lunch making the need to make lunches available even greater.

Monday, January 22nd 2024, 3:24 pm



Schools do more than feed students' minds, they also feed their appetites.

When winter weather hits Green Country, districts are forced to make a tough decision.

"Anytime we close school, we know there are students that go without food," said Child Nutrition Specialist for Catoosa Public Schools, Ashley Richards.

On Monday, the district moved to distance learning because of the icy road conditions. However, Richards saw a glimmer of hope in the forecast. 

"We looked at it last night and saw the weather was going to clear up a little bit later in the afternoon, so we thought let's open it up and do what we can do," said Richards.

The "Dome" as the district calls its cafeteria opened at 1 p.m. serving up pan pizzas, dumplings, salad, fruits, and vegetables to any student for free.

About 75% of Catoosa Public Schools students qualify for free or reduced lunch making the need for something like this even greater.

"There are residents that may not have gas, electricity, or heat and may not be able to make food," said Richards, "If there is any way that we can step in and fill that gap, we want to do so."

The effort helps ensure no student goes without a meal.

"It is sometimes their only meal, so it is our goal to make it the best meal they have of the day," Richards added. "When they come into the cafeteria, we want this to be a safe space for them."

An escape from the weather and anything else going on in their lives.

"The students are our #1 priority, so if we can do anything to make their lives easier, we want to do so," said Richards

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