JCPS could expand free meal program under new federal guidelines - WDRB 41 Louisville News

JCPS could expand free meal program under new federal guidelines

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- More Jefferson County Public Schools students could discover there is such a thing as a free lunch and breakfast.
The school board will consider expanding the free meal program Tuesday night.

New federal guidelines mean more students can receive free meals regardless of the family's income.

Under the new rules, if 62.5% of students in a school qualify for the federal free meal program, then every student at that school can receive free breakfast and lunch, no matter the parents' income.

"Those are resources for all families that can be utilized for other educational purposes or benefits, or put into college savings account," said Julia Bauscher, JCPS Director of School and Community Nutrition.

The new guidelines will affect 95 schools and some 55,000 students.

"Providing a school meal is as important to me as providing books or transportation to students. It's an important factor in helping secure their academic achievement and success," said Bauscher.

Parents WDRB talked to at Waterfront Park generally liked the idea.

"I think there's a lot of families that are struggling nowadays, and may be borderline low to medium income. And sometimes, even though you can pay for meals, it's great to give free meals to kids," said one mom.

"If they have funds available and that's what it's for, and there's enough to feed everyone regardless of income, I think it's OK," said another.

For a student currently paying full price for meals, the savings would be $700 per year. But should taxpayers foot the bill for students who can afford to pay?

"The great thing about this program, and most importantly, is it provides healthy meals to all students. Even if they're paid, it doesn't mean that they take the time to eat breakfast or that they pack a nutritious lunch," said Bauscher.

The expanded school lunch program is federally funded and would not impact the JCPS budget. The school board will vote Tuesday night whether to adopt the program.

You can see the list of 95 schools affected here.

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