LANSING, Mich. — Starting this school year there’ll be a load off a lot of parent’s shoulders in Charlotte.
Charlotte Public Schools will provide free meals to a new group of students.
When school starts back on August 19, all of the students in grades Developmental Kindergarten to Third grade will able to get free lunch. No sign up necessary. No questions asked.
Charlotte Food Service Supervisor Brian Latty says the need to feed students has increased
“We love students, children, feeding them, but there are some families that may not qualify for free or reduced or the parents are not filling out the application,” said Latty.
Latty says a number of those parents who do not quality really need the help.
“Their expenses are more than their revenues and they’re having a hard time meeting ends,” said Latty.
Now all students at Parkview, Washington, and Galewood Elementary schools will get free breakfast and lunch regardless of if they qualify or not.
“There’s a high enough need kind of where it’s universal,” said Latty. “We’ve had a lot in the past as far as negative accounts so this is going to eliminate it for our youngest students where there isn’t a problem trying to collect money or doing any of that.”
It’s a trial program. The Community Eligibility Program is a partnership with the USDA and the Michigan Department of Education to determine food need and help fill it. Charlotte did not qualify for the program until this April when changes were made. Now, Superintendent Mandy Stewart says the combined percentage of families who qualify for free meals in the three schools meets the requirement.
“It really is going to affect their education because it’s really difficult to learn when you’re hungry,” said Stewart.
Families do not need to sign up for the program. The only thing parents have to do is send their kids to school.
“If you’re a parent who is struggling in the morning to get your student off to school, it also deescalates the amount of time that you are packing lunches and really the opportunity for kids to have healthy choices for breakfast and lunch helps them to do better academically,” said Latty.
While there is no sign up required, there is a survey that will be sent to families’ homes this month. The school district is asking families to not ignore it. Fill it out so that the schools can maintain their eligibility for the program.
They hope to extend the program to include all of its schools. This year, the percentage for the upper elementary, middle and high schools did not qualify.
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