Metro Schools to serve free lunches to all students - WKRN News 2

Metro Schools to serve free lunches to all students

Posted: Updated: Jun 11, 2014 08:07 PM
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Metro Nashville Public Schools will begin serving free lunches to all students this upcoming school year, even if families can financially afford it.

The meal program, led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is an experimental federal initiative. It aims to make it easier for students from low-income families to receive free meals without having to fill out paperwork and to eliminate the uncomfortable economic divide among students.

The cost of the free meals will be covered by the federal government by using a formula based on the percentage of students identified as eligible for free meals.

Silva Brooks, the grandmother of three elementary school-aged children who attend Metro Schools, was excited to learn about the program Wednesday.  She thinks it is great that all students, regardless of their families' economic status, will be able to feast on a well-balanced nutritional meal free of charged.

"Now we can go into the cafeteria and eat and everyone is on the same level," said Brooks.  

School districts across the country can take part in the Community Eligibility Provision program if they have 40% or more students who are eligible for free meals programs.

Nearly 75% of Metro students fall into that category.

Cities such as Atlanta, Detroit, and Chicago have been participating in the four-year pilot program.

Metro Schools' spokesman Joe Bass told News 2 the federal government will reimburse the district 98.6% of the cost for the meals.

The rest of the cost will be off-set by additional food items students will be charged for in addition to their free meals.

"We're very, very excited this is going to mean a lot for our student," said Bass.

While parents are no longer required to fill-out paperwork for the meal assistance program, Bass said they still have to provide the school district their household data, such as annual income and number of dependents, before the start of the school year.

"Because the percentage of students who are eligible for that determines a lot of the assistance and federal money that we get," said Bass.

Metro Schools is expected to have 85,000 students this fall and the Nutrition Services budget is projected to be $43-million this coming school year.

Shelby County's School System confirmed with News 2 that they are also eligible for the federal program.
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