Free breakfast, lunch for some western Ky. elementary students starting this fall

HOPKINS COUNTY, KY (WFIE) - From Hopkins County, news that all elementary students in the county school system will get free breakfasts and lunches next year.

It's all part of a federally funded program through the US Department of Agriculture's community eligibility option.

Parents like Eydie Tate know just how expensive it can be to provide school meals for their children, especially having multiple kids.

"Free lunches would mean almost $1,000 in savings a year if both my children ate breakfast and lunch at school."

Tate has two daughters in elementary school that will be getting free meals every day beginning this fall.

"I think for all families to know their child is going to get a nutritious meal, breakfast and lunch at school at no cost to them, that's a wonderful situation for all families," Tate said.

Kentucky is one of three states who began this program as a pilot last year.  Now, more districts, including Hopkins County, are giving it a try.

"It has been successful, so they will allow a few more states to try it again for next year. Then after that it will be a national program," said Director of School Food Services Marci Cox.

Cox says nearly 4,000 kids will be fed through this program, and they hope this program eliminates any of the stigmas related to students on a free or reduced meal program.

"We're going to be able to do some fun things like grab and go. We can do a breakfast in the classroom, you can get the kids through the line quicker," Cox noted.

Cox says it differs from the free and reduced meal program in that it doesn't require an application, making it much easier for parents.

"We'll still need them for middle and high school students, but we really want to be able to provide healthier meals for more children every day."

School officials say if they can afford it, they will look into expanding the program into middle and high schools after the first year.

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