THUMBS UP to Levenia and Robert Carey for providing a solution to student lunch debts.

The owners of Carey-Out Smokehouse in McAlester started collecting donations that she plans to put toward paying off lunch debts students at schools in the area.

“I don’t think anyone would want to see a child go hungry,” Levenia Carey said.

Federal free meal programs only cover meals served to students enrolled in the federal program, and schools must charge non-enrolled students to cover costs. A School Nutrition Association survey showed the median amount of unpaid meal debt per district rose 70% in the last six years with 75% of schools reporting unpaid lunch debts.

The Careys started the passion project after conversations about student lunch debts on Facebook and hearing from people looking for local solutions.

They didn’t do it for the recognition — and don’t want people to just donate at their McAlester restaurant. They want people to pay for student lunch debts at any school so children get a meal during the day.

Levenia Carey said she wants to reach out to local schools and prioritize helping families who might struggle to pay the lunch debts.

We thank the Careys for working to provide some relief to student lunch debts and hope more help is on the way.

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THUMBS UP to McAlester Public Schools for conducting active shooter drills.

McAlester High School conducted an active shooter drill Friday overseen by MPS Student Resource Officer Jeremy Busby and the McAlester Police Department.

MPS Superintendent Randy Hughes said school campuses have their own schedules for active shooter drills to help students and staff prepare for such an event.

“This is a serious condition in our nation today and we have to take every precaution we can,” Hughes said. “We feel like we have to do this in order to give them that safety.”

And we agree.

Analysis by the Washington Post shows 172 public mass shootings — in which four or more people were killed by a shooter — left 1,229 people dead since Aug. 1, 1966, when a student sniper shot and killed 17 people from the clock tower at the University of Texas.

Although most mass shootings happen at offices and retail establishments, school shootings also leave scenes of devastation and questions about the motivation for killing children and teachers.

The training sessions at MPS focus on the acronym A.L.I.C.E. — which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

We applaud MPS and other schools for helping prepare students and staff to escape and survive in the hopes that our area isn’t remembered for tragedy.

McAlester News-Capital editorial board

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