Free meals for every kid in school - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Free meals for every kid in school

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TAMMS, IL (KFVS) -

Some of the poorest counties in the State of Illinois, are in Southern Illinois. And school leaders at Egyptian School in Tamms, knew they had to do something to help their families in need.

So they turned to the U.S. Department of Agriculture for some help. And the school district found that they qualified for the "Community Eligibility Option" program.

"We have a lot of families in our community that are low income," said Elementary Principal Danny McCrite. " And we have a lot of parents who have more than one child. When you start talking about spending several dollars a day for breakfast and lunch, that soon adds up."

But, now under the federally funded program parents won't have to dig into their pockets anymore for those meals.

Kids are now getting breakfast, lunch and after school snacks for free.

"We are very blessed. It helps out financially," said Paula Betts of Tamms. "And we know at least that there's other children in the same position, that now get a good meal twice a day."

Principal McCrite says the school district has benefited in many ways from the program.

"We had a problem with students not wanting to get free lunches because they didn't want the other kids laughing at them. So now everybody is equal. And it's really been a good program for our school."

Things don't stop with just keeping kids stomachs satisfied, there are benefits of the program that extend even after they graduate.

"Juniors and Seniors due to being on free introduced lunch are eligible for free waivers for their ACT Test and also for college application waivers," said Egyptian School Counselor Jamie Chiaventone. "None of our Seniors have had to pay an application fee to apply to colleges this year."

This is the first year of four, for the Egyptian School District to utilize the program.

Illinois is not alone in utilizing the federally funded program.  Schools in Kentucky and Tennessee are also benefiting from the program.

In Illinois there's an estimated 1,200 public schools that could be eligible for the program. And provide more than 500,000 students with free meals five days a week.

 

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