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Donations continue to come into the Parker Unified School District to cover the costs of student meals. At their Sept. 14 meeting, the Parker Board approved three donations totaling $8,500.

The donations were from Bingham Equipment for $3,000, the Greens Kadakia Foundation for $5,001, and from Kenneth J. Coughlin for $500.

Superintendent Brad Sale said that, from the total amount that’s been donated, about 10 percent has been spent.

The situation stems from the Parker Schools going from the Community Eligibility Program which provided for free meals to all students back to the National School Lunch Program. This meant some students would have to pay full price for their meals while others would qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

Sale said CEP is a federal program administered by the Arizona Department of Agriculture. The Parker schools were on the program for the last four years. Sale said they reapplied for the program for another four-year period starting with the 2022-23 school year, but were turned down due to changed demographics.

These changed demographics could have been the result of food programs and other assistance related to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, many of the families in the district went off programs like SNAP. The number of families on programs like SNAP was what the Department of Agriculture uses to determine whether a district qualifies for the CEP.

Soon after it was announced some students would be paying for their meals, Parker resident Mike Breazzeal announced he was donating $500 of his own money to pay for student meals. He urged others to follow his example.

Sale praised Breazzeal and others who have made donations.

In August, Sale said the district had 898 students who qualified for free meals, while another 217 qualified for reduced-price meals. That comes to 63 percent of the students in the district. Sale added those figures could increase.

At the Sept. 14 meeting, the school board also approved a donation of books worth approximately $3,500 to Blake Primary School from Tiffany Beaver. They also approved a cash donation of $150 from Kagan Professional Development for district gifts and donations and another cash donation of $687.67 from DonorsChoose for the Blake School Gifted Program.


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