School administrators from around the valley met at Shenandoah University on Friday to discuss the possibility of expanding the Bright Futures program.

According to Bright Futures officials, almost half of the nation’s students qualify for free or reduced lunches, and that number is rising. 

In Virginia, studies show that 40 percent of students qualify for the discount.

Bright Futures aims to level the playing field so students can worry about their studies, not when and where they will get their next meal. 

“It’s not just a job of schools, it’s a job of the entire community to meet those basic needs. So, Bright Futures is an umbrella under which we marshal all of those resources and meet those needs most effectively,” said Doug Joyner, Winchester Public Schools. 

Other district officials who do not yet have the program said they see a need for Bright Futures in their school’s system. 

“We deal with lots of populations and several populations of students that are at risk. So, any time we can find something new that helps us out — that would be a wonderful thing,” said Greg Drescher, Warren County Public Schools Superintendent.

Frederick County Public Schools has been a Bright Futures affiliate for three years, and Winchester Public Schools will become one in March.