Fighting Hunger in the Ozarks: One School District’s Attempt to Help

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MOUNTAIN VIEW, Mo. — If you leave Springfield and venture east, tucked away in a pocket of south central Missouri sits what residents there consider their own piece of heaven.

“Well, we’re living in a little pocket of paradise here,” Mountain View Birch Tree School District Superintendent Dr. Don Christensen said.

The Jacks Fork River is one of the cleanest in the country, and provides several different views of its own beauty.

“(The beauty) is why we choose to live here,” Christensen added. “Unfortunately, there’s just not a whole lot of economic development in this area, to match the beauty.”

So Dr. Christiansen wants to help the community. He, and the rest of the staff at the district are doing something about it this year.

“This is the first time we’ve done it,” he said. “It’s called the Community Eligibility Provision Grant.”

It’s a food service grant that will provide free meals to 700 students in Birch Tree and Mountain View Elementary Schools. Birch Tree Counselor Paula Renshaw is excited about the immediate effect it will have on her students.

“There are educational benefits for that. We want every child to succeed,” Renshaw said.

Students will get a completely free breakfast and lunch provided to them each day.

“We believe it’ll have a positive impact on our community,” Renshaw said. “We live in a world where 16 million students live in homes that struggle to put food on the table.  Our district has always been invested in our community, so this is a way to give back”

“We’re just doing what we can to help parents and kids and help stave off hunger,” said Dr. Christensen.

The grant is funded by OPAA, which is a program that specializes in feeding K-12 students throughout the country. This is the second half of a two year grant, and it applies to both elementary schools for the duration of the school year. The district already has plans to apply for another two year grant that would start next August.

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