How fitting that it’s National School Lunch Week and I want to discuss school lunches. This was in my Facebook news feed yesterday. Sadly, I’ve seen posts like this far too often. This one was posted by a friend of a friend.
Feeling frustrated and saddened that this is happening in her child’s school, my friend has a meeting today with her district’s superintendent. I wish her the best of luck today with her meeting. I hope they are able to come up with some idea of a plan that is better for both the children and the families.
With today’s economy being what it is, so many families are struggling to make ends meet. I had the benefit of being involved in a school district that provided free breakfast and lunch to all students. It was a poorer district. I told my friend about this. I had told her that I really didn’t know how they were able to provide the food free for all, but I gave her some contact information for the school, so she could speak to someone to obtain more information.
After I gave her that information, my love of research started itching. I already had the school website open because I had gone there to grab their phone number. I started clicking around. Then I found what I was looking for. The answer to how the school provided free lunch for everyone. They participate in the National School Lunch Program through the community eligibility qualification. I immediately sent her the link to the program.
But, as a parent of a child with Generalized Anxiety Disorder, it pained me to hear of a child who was anxious about his own lunch account because of something he saw happen to at least one other student, possibly more. (Will I get lunch? What will my lunch be? are two very common anxieties for my daughter) So, I had to do more research. I had to know how it is that they served free lunch to everyone. Wasn’t the program only for those who fall within the financial guidelines?
What I Learned
Not exactly. You see, there are many ways for a child to receive free lunch. The family could be on assistance. The child could be in foster care, homeless, or a child of a migrant worker. All of the Head Start programs receive free meals for every student. There is also the eligibility based on income. If you fall within what they call the poverty line, you can qualify for free or reduced meals based on your household income.
There is also one other way. If 40% or more of a district’s students are eligible by any of the above criteria, then the school qualifies for the community eligibility for the National School Lunch Program free lunch program for the entire district. Nobody pays. This year, barely more than half of the schools eligible for this program actually participate.
Spread the Word
These schools may not be aware of their eligibility. They may not know how to apply or if they meet the criteria. Visit the National School Lunch Program website and print off useful pdf pamphlets from the community eligibility page to share with your school, or share the link with the superintendent, school board, principal, or even the lunch lady. Whoever you need to share it with to ensure that it finds it’s way into the right hands. You could be helping students never suffer the humiliation of receiving a sunbutter and jelly sandwich or worrying if their account is paid up as they wait in line for their lunch.
Click share below and spread this information all over the country.