Students to receive free lunch

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By Rebecca Roscoe

More than 1,000 LaRue County elementary students will receive free meals at school when classes resume in August.

The LaRue County School Board approved the Community Eligibility Option referred to as “CEO” during a special meeting on June 25.

Dee Anne Sanders, food coordinator for LaRue County Schools, did a presentation on the change.

The CEO program is associated with the reauthorization of the National School Lunch Program and seeks to provide all students at qualifying schools with free lunch and also one free breakfast meal each day.

The program eliminates the income that would have been received for paid lunches, $1.75 a meal and reduced lunches, at 40 cents per meal; and is supplemented by reimbursement from the state.

Qualifying schools must have a high poverty rate among its students, that meets or exceeds the 40 percent poverty threshold set aside for students classified to be eligible for free and reduced lunch.

Abraham Lincoln Elementary School, Hodgenville Elementary School and The Life Connection all qualify for the program.

“Younger families tend to have less money starting out and as their kids get older they have the ability to increase their income,” said Dee Anne Sanders, explaining why the elementary schools were the only ones in the LCS district that qualified for the program.

HES alone will see a potential $2,000 to $3,000 increase through funds from the state, reimbursing districts for the meals provided through the CEO program. However, once the paid lunch monies are taken into consideration, the numbers balance out, said Sanders.

The only costs to students at each of the schools will occur if they want extra food. Parents and teachers will have to pay for their lunches though, as the program is strictly for the children.

The CEO will also include students who are within the SNAP program (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), or are considered to be migrant children from farming families, foster children and Medicaid students.

Dee Anne Sanders and the FRAM (Free Reduced Administrative Module) Coordinator, Charlotte Tucker, will work together to keep track of progress and needs of the program.

“Nobody has opted out of those who’ve done it in the past three years and the parents really appreciate it,” said Sanders.

Superintendent Sam Sanders said he has received a positive response from each of the schools.

“I met with the principals yesterday for both schools and they are excited about this –It sounds too good to be true,” said Sam Sanders.

There will be brochures and a “Student One Call” to provide more information to parents and students about the upcoming CEO program changes. Information will also be put on the districts’ website, with a media release to The LaRue County Herald News.

“Everyone will tell you the first barrier to learning is a hungry child,” said Dee Anne Sanders, “I think it’s a wonderful thing because our children are so important to us and need to get a good start. It’s a great thing for our families and LaRue County.”