Free breakfast, lunch, dinner will be offered to all SCS student - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Free breakfast, lunch, dinner will be offered to all SCS students

(WMC-TV) - It is the first year the option to provide free lunch to students has been available and Shelby County Schools plans to choose it.

Officials at district headquarters call it a universal free child nutrition program. It will offer free breakfast, lunch, and dinner to all SCS students during the 2014-2015 school year.

"Like me as a working parent, sometimes we're in a rush and the child might not get everything he or she needs," said Charles Wilhite. "So you can be okay thinking that when we get to school, he or she has a free meal, something to count on, to depend on."

At the school board meeting Tuesday night, Central Nutrition Director Tony Geraci explained the district is going this route because it means faster cafeteria service, higher revenue, and simpler administration.

"This is science. When a healthy kid has great food they perform better," said Geraci.

The plan is made possible under the federal Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, which was designed to ensure children have access to proper nutrition in high-poverty school districts.

SCS says the way it is reimbursed makes fiscal sense to offer free meals to all students.

"I'm looking forward to it and I can't wait to see it get started," said Wilhite.

The district has filled out its state application, which is not a request for funding, but is simply an official record of the plan with the state and USDA.

Nothing is a done deal until July 1.

Click here to read more about the free breakfast, lunch, and dinner program, how SCS qualifies, and how it is funded.

Here are some details about the plan and the process:

1. The application for this program has been completed by the district, but the application submission period for this program is not until April. (Context: every year, we fill out an application to communicate to thestate and USDA which nutrition service option we will be providing. This year, we are selecting a new option.)

2. 2014-15 is the first year this option of providing universally free meals is available to public school districts in the U.S.

3. The April application will not be followed with an approval or denial response, nor is this an "application for funding." The application simply serves to put our intentions of providing this nutrition service option on official record with the state and USDA.

4. We are already providing universal breakfast and universal supper. This would add universal lunch to our service plan.

5. While superintendent and staff communicated their support for and intent to provide this service in 2014-15 last night, it is not officially a "done deal" until July 1, 2014. This does not require a Board vote.

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