ELKINS - The holiday season is upon us and students are eager to enjoy the upcoming break from studies, but school officials want to remind parents and family members to take preparations to feed and care for the students during the Christmas vacation.
Randolph County currently has 14 of 15 schools participating in the Community Eligibility Option, or CEO, in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs. Under CEO, all children in the 14 schools are eligible to receive a healthy breakfast and lunch at school at no cost.
School officials say many students take advantage of the meals and the new option has been successful - but they worry that those meals won't be available to students during the Christmas break, which runs from Monday through Jan. 1.
Parents who are used to sending their children off to school before going to work may need a reminder to stock up on certain items in preparation for their children being at home throughout the holiday season, officials said.
"Sometimes parents spend so much time in their daily grind that they are not accustomed to having their children home for an extended period of time," said Randolph County Superintendent of Schools Terry George. "We want students who are away from school for an extended period of time to maintain a healthy lifestyle on their break."
In terms of food and nutritional items, officials say it's important to stock up.
"Make sure you have easy-to-fix items readily available and at their disposal," said Ladonna Rosencrance, coordinator of Child Nutrition for Randolph County Schools. "Easy breakfast items are toast, muffins, pancakes, eggs, biscuits, juices and milk. For lunch, parents can get items like peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, pepperoni rolls, lunchmeats, canned soups, and, of course, plenty of fruits and vegetables."
Rosencrance also said it pays for families to plan ahead, She also noted that, if necessary, parents can look toward a local food bank for help.
Officials said to take extra safety precautions this season.
"It's important to keep students safe," said George. "Some see the holiday season as an opportunity to be lenient about how long they allow their kids to be out and about. We just want to remind parents to monitor their children, being keenly aware of where they are and who they are with at all times. It's important that they have a safe holiday.
"We also want students to come back refreshed and prepared to finish the semester."