Schools in Jacksonville feeding first responders for free

First responder lunch program at Jacksonville City Schools
Published: Apr. 7, 2023 at 5:00 PM CDT
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JACKSONVILLE, Ala. (WBRC) - First responders in Jacksonville can now eat free in the city school system. This is all a part of a new partnership between the city and emergency crews to keep these schools safe.

Superintendent Dr. Mike Howard says when he learned about the shooting at the Covenant School in Nashville, he wanted to come up with a way to get more first responders inside Kitty Stone Elementary and Jacksonville High.

This new program will allow police officers, firefighters, and EMTs a chance to get a free meal and get to know students by having conversations allowing them to get more comfortable and build positive relationships.

Dr. Howard says it also adds another layer of safety and helps the three school resource officers they already have at both schools.

“They’ll get used to seeing first responders there all the time,” says Dr. Howard. “In a sense, it will be so sporadic it’ll also help make sure that the wrong people don’t even want to come near our campuses.”

Jacksonville Police Chief Marcus Wood says as a parent of students in the school district and a first responder, these relationships are important to bridge the gap between law enforcement and the community.

“I think it’s tremendous to be able to have as many law enforcement officers stopping by. Not only for the protection of the schools or the students or faculty,” says Chief Wood. “Just to have the conversation and hang out with kids.”

The program launched this week, and the district is using funds set aside in its budget to feed first responders for the remainder of this school year.

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