Harrison County School District giving back to the community through meal program

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The Harrison County School District is serving up 2,500 breakfast and 2,500 lunches a day throughout the school system.

School may be out, but cafeteria workers are still putting in a full day throughout the Harrison County School District as the ‘Summer Meals Program’ gets rolling.

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Overnight, roasted pulled pork sandwiches, just one choice on the menu Tuesday, along with grab and go snack goodies at Three Rivers Elementary School.  Harrison County School District Director of Child Nutrition Brad Barlow said, “This is one of nine sites we have open providing free breakfast and lunch for the community. It’s all packaged in one large package from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. every day. No enrollment or application is needed. Just a child shows up, and we provide them with these packaged meals.”

Barlow says they’ve served up 85,000 meals since the state’s shelter in place went into effect and the demand keeps growing, especially with three out of four students in Harrison County receiving free or reduced meals. “We knew there was a sense of urgency to provide meals in the wake of this disaster. We knew people were losing their jobs. They received free and reduced meals during the school year already so we reacted quickly. Right now, we have seen the numbers in the month of May increase. Whether that is due to stimulus money drying up or unemployment, we have seen an uptick in the meals program during the month of May.”

These meals served daily Monday through Friday aren’t all that’s on the menu. Schools are also offering instructional materials to feed students’ minds and to help them learn and grow. Three Rivers Elementary School Assistant Principal Kevin Roberts said, “This caught everybody off guard. You couldn’t be prepared for it because nothing like this has happened. So far, it’s been pretty successful. Parents have been pretty happy.”

From the looks on the kids’ faces, they’re also pretty happy with it all.

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Toni started at WXXV News 25 in December of 2013, just three months after the news was launched. She has served as Assignment Editor, anchored for nearly two years, worked as a reporter for several years and hosted Coastal Connections for more than four years. Toni graduated Magna Cum Laude from the University of Southern Mississippi where she was editor of the Student Printz. She then did an internship on Capitol Hill, working for a U.S. Senator, then returned to Mississippi as a reporter at WDAM in Hattiesburg. After that, she moved to the Mississippi Gulf Coast, working as a reporter for FOX 25 in Biloxi, then crossing city lines to work at WLOX-TV news in Biloxi, starting out as a producer, then working as a photographer, reporter, weekend assignment editor and weekend anchor. She was among the station team that won the Edward Murrow and Peabody awards for coverage during Hurricane Katrina. Toni moved to the Lone Star State where she worked as the morning and noon anchor, investigative reporter and live shot reporter for KZTV Action 10 News, then KRIS TV News in Corpus Christi, Texas. Toni moved back to the Magnolia State to be with and take care of her family, working as a multi-media journalist and fill-in anchor at WDBD Fox 40 news in Jackson. After almost completing a second degree in filmmaking at the University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast, Toni transitioned back to news at News 25. Toni is blessed to have a wonderful support network of close family, friends and mentors, and she hopes to pay it forward. She has a three-legged chiweenie named Rocky Balboa because of his fighting spirit. She loves writing and has completed a novel that has been adapted into a screenplay, and has just finished another screenplay called "Delta Rose." She's currently working on a new legal thriller called "Fall From Grace." Stay tuned.... If you’d like to book a live in studio interview on News 25 Today, just email: tmiles@wxxv25.com. These interviews can have up to two guests, last about two minutes and showcase community events, non-profit organizations and things of interest to people in our area…and they’re FREE! Just send information about your event, including date, time, location, contact number and/or website for viewers wanting more information, along with the proper name and titles of the person or two people who will be interviewed, and Toni or producer Porsha Williams (pwilliams@wxxv25.com) will get back with you via email in a timely manner to book a date. Typical interview times are daily at: 5:45, 6:45, 7:45 or 8:45 am. Guests are asked to arrive about 30 minutes beforehand. You can also ask about booking a live shot on location for news events for our 6 and 7 am newscasts. We look forwarding to having you!