Union Schools Seeing Increase In Demand For Free, Reduced Lunches

Wednesday, September 22nd 2021, 12:24 pm
By: Mallory Thomas

TULSA, Oklahoma -

Area public schools said they are seeing more kids needing help with free meals and not just at lunchtime.

Wednesday, dozens of Union employees prepared for a busy day feeding thousands of students.

“You get a lot of gratitude from the kids and the appreciation that they have for the food and that’s always so rewarding because there are children out there that really need the food," said Kathy Burke.

Burke has been part of Union Public Schools' child nutrition department for 28 years. She said she's never seen the demand this high. Before the pandemic, her team served roughly 2,000 meals daily at Union's 6th and 7th grades. That number has jumped up to 3,000 meals. 

“We are reaching record highs ever since I’ve been here for 13 years. And that’s pretty astounding when you think about we’ve only been in school for a month and a half," said Lisa Griffin.

Griffin is Union's director for child nutrition and said they are now serving three meals a day to some students and the USDA is providing free lunches to all students, regardless of income. 

“I think we figured about 750 per child. Something like that, or more depending on what they chose to eat, but it will save the family a lot in the food budget," said Griffin.

Tulsa Public Schools said since July 2020, they've provided 4 million meals to those in need. Jenks Public Schools said they're serving nearly 7,000 meals a day, which is up about 200 from before. 

Burke said these meals mean more now than they ever have before. 

“It’s just really great just to hear those stories of the reality out there. So yeah it’s just nice to see the reward that we get back for doing all the work," said Burke.

Griffin said they were down about 30 employees in the child nutrition department during the pandemic. She said luckily, they've been able to keep up with the increasing demand, but they are looking to hire people for vacant positions. 

For more information about the positions: https://unionps.org/careers