Niagara Gazette — Thanks to a state program, every Niagara Falls City School District child will be eligible for free breakfasts and lunches during the 2013-14 school year.
The district announced its continued participation in the Community Eligibility Option program, which will open up opportunities for all children to receive healthy meals while at district schools. Every student will be able to receive both breakfast and lunch without paying, though ala carte items will still be sold to children as desired.
Last year, about 66 percent of the district's population qualified for either free or reduced-price options for daytime meals, according to Superintendent Cynthia Bianco. So the district, exploring ways to lessen expenses in the cafeteria, joined the program, which is part of the National School Lunch Program.
After enrolling, seven schools – Abate, Cataract, Hyde Park and Niagara elementaries, Kalfas Magnet and both LaSalle and Gaskill preparatories – qualified for the free meals. Two additional, 79th Street elementary and the district's high school, were deemed close.
Though the program will no longer use data collected from free or reduced-price lunch applications, the district is pushing parents to continue to apply. The Household Income Eligibility Form, used previously to determine eligibility, is used for other, non-school-lunch programs which the district uses, according to Bianco.
"It is still important for families to fill out the annual Household Income Eligibility Form, because the information collected from that instrument helps the District apply for grants and receive Title 1 monies," she said. "We are certainly happy to be able to provide nutrition to all students in our District."
Meanwhile, the district's school board is set to meet at 7 p.m. today at the board's meeting auditorium, 630 66th St. For more information about the free lunch program, contact the district's food services department at 286-4241.