Floyd County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion ends free lunch, keeps free break­fast

The pro­gram comes to an end due to lack of state re­im­burse­ment.

Rome News-Tribune - - FRONT PAGE - By John Popham JPopham@RN-T.com Floyd County Schools con­trib­uted to this re­port.

The Floyd County Board of Ed­u­ca­tion voted at their reg­u­larly sched­uled meet­ing on Tues­day to end the free lunch pro­gram, re­turn­ing to a tra­di­tional paid and re­duced lunch pro­gram. They will be keep­ing the free break­fast pro­gram.

The rec­om­men­da­tion was made af­ter it was made ap­par­ent that there was a lack of fund­ing to the Com­mu­nity El­i­gi­bil­ity pro­gram, which was sup­posed to re­im­burse the school sys­tem for the meals it gave out. The CEP pro­gram will end on Dec. 31 and at the start of the year the new lunch prices will be as fol­lows: El­e­men­tary school stu­dent lunches will be $2.25, mid­dle and high school stu­dent lunches will be $2.50 and the re­duced rate for K-12 stu­dents who are el­i­gi­ble will be 40 cents.

“We hate to see this pro­gram go, but are proud to say we served over 5 mil­lion meals and snacks to stu­dents at no charge over the last two and a half years,” said FCS Deputy Su­per­in­ten­dent April Childers. “We are here to pro­vide sup­port to all fam­i­lies need­ing to fill out the ap­pli­ca­tion to en­sure el­i­gi­ble stu­dents are still served meals and snacks at no charge.”

“We will be flex­i­ble for the first few months, no child will be with­out a meal,” Su­per­in­ten­dent Jeff Wil­son said. “We won’t be tak­ing a meal from a child’s hands.”

Free and re­duced lunch re­cip­i­ents will be de­ter­mined by fam­ily in­come and size from Jan­uary on, as well as other ex­cep­tional cir­cum­stances. Fos­ter chil­dren un­der the le­gal re­spon­si­bil­ity of fos­ter care agen­cies or the court are also el­i­gi­ble as are par­tic­i­pants in the Head Start Pro­gram. Chil­dren may re­ceive free or re­duced price meals if their house­hold’s in­come is within the lim­its on the Fed­eral In­come chart. Fi­nally chil­dren who meet the def­i­ni­tion of home­less, run­away, or mi­grant are el­i­gi­ble for the free meal pro­gram.

To see the full chart visit www.floy­d­boe.net and click on the re­lease la­beled FCS Con­tin­ues Free Break­fast and An­nounces Lunch Rates. There will also be an alert box shown on the screen which will re­di­rect fam­i­lies who need to fill out an ap­pli­ca­tion to the proper form. Ad­di­tional forms will be avail­able in all FCS of­fices if ac­cess to the in­ter­net is lim­ited.

Ac­cord­ing to the Floyd BOE web­site, mul­ti­ple ap­pli­ca­tions per fam­ily will not be re­quired. The sites fre­quently asked ques­tions page sug­gested that one ap­pli­ca­tion can be filled out per fam­ily re­gard­less of how many kids are in the school sys­tem.

Par­ents and guardians have the op­tion to com­plete a pa­per or on­line ap­pli­ca­tion. The on­line ap­pli­ca­tion is avail­able on the Floyd BOE web­site. Pa­per ap­pli­ca­tions will be sent home with stu­dents. If an ap­pli­ca­tion was ap­proved last year, there is no guar­an­tee the ap­pli­cant will not have to reap­ply, so par­ents should con­tact FCS to check. Also ap­pli­ca­tions need to be pro­cessed as soon as pos­si­ble to make sure no child is with­out a lunch when the pro­gram ends at the end of the year.

This de­ci­sion was one the Floyd BOE dis­cussed ex­ten­sively since they were made aware that the Food Ser­vice Pro­gram was not self-suf­fi­cient due to a lack of fund­ing. The school sys­tem fell be­neath the per­cent­age needed to re­ceive enough re­im­burse­ment from the state caus­ing the school sys­tem to lose around $500,000 last school year. The school board said Tues­day they will re­visit the is­sue next school year if the per­cent­ages of stu­dents who qual­ify for the pro­gram reach what the state re­quires for the re­im­burse­ments. They did vote to keep the free break­fast pro­gram at the sys­tem’s ex­pense in or­der to make sure ev­ery stu­dent has a good meal to start the day.

Jan Ferg­er­son of Ford, Git­tings & Kane Jew­el­ers puck­ers up dur­ing a pre­vi­ous Cat­fish Kissin’ con­test as Zach Wil­liams stead­ies the fish. This year’s event is set for this Satur­day. / Con­trib­uted

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