April 12, 2024

Marilou Smith is the Medication Access Specialist at Brunswick Senior Resources Inc.

As an employee of Brunswick Senior Resources Inc. for over 12 years, I’ve witnessed firsthand the importance of promoting well-being and enhancing the quality of life for all senior adults in Brunswick County. However, as a parent and advocate for children, I also recognize the critical need to extend this mission to our younger generation, particularly in our public school system.

Students attending public schools come from diverse backgrounds, many facing financial obstacles that hinder their access to basic necessities like school meals. It’s disheartening to know that some parents and legal guardians struggle to afford these meals on top of their day-to-day bills. No family should have to worry about putting food on the table, especially when it comes to ensuring their children have nutritious meals at school. 

To address this issue, schools must allocate more resources to their cafeterias to ensure that every student has access to an ample supply of food. Additionally, nutrition staff should have better access to resources for purchasing food and supporting their salaries. Many parents, myself included, are unaware of the budget constraints faced by nutrition staff, assuming that there should be adequate funding for meals. There is a need for education and communication to the community of the budget limitations for the school nutrition programs and garner support for addressing these challenges. One way that we can help school nutrition programs is by providing no-cost meals to all students with the support of funds in the state budget. 

As a single mom, I know the financial benefits of school meals for all. Prior to Brunswick County participating in the Community Eligibility Provision, paying for school meals was a financial hardship for my family. Now that the district provides no-cost school meals for all students, I am able to allocate that money to other important needs for my children. 

As parents and legal guardians, we share a common goal: to ensure our children’s success. Adequate nutrition is a fundamental component of their ability to focus and perform at their best in school. It’s time for us to come together as a community, adults, and children, to advocate for no-cost meals and increased funding for nutrition staff in our schools. By involving students in this mission, we empower them to be advocates for their own well-being and education.

I stand in solidarity with local educators and students, advocating for equitable access to nutritious school meals for all. Our nutrition staff are the heart of our schools, and without their dedication and resources, our children’s academic success is at risk. Let’s ensure that every child has the resources they need to thrive, starting with school meals for all students in NC public schools.

Together, we can make a difference and ensure that every child’s right to adequate nutrition is upheld. Thank you to our educators and nutrition staff for their unwavering commitment to our children’s well-being.

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