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Applications for free lunch program now available

By Staff | Jul 23, 2011

Applications are now available for free and reduced lunches for elementary, middle and high school students enrolled in the Lee County School District.
The application can be be filled out online, at any of the schools, or at the district office.
Food and Nutrition Service Director Wayne Nagy said last year they had more than 79 percent free or reduced qualified students in the district. Lee County is economically needy due to the economic climate the area is facing, he added.
The district typically receives more than 42,000 meal applications at the start of every school year. According to an October 2010 student count, the district had 81,929 students enrolled.
School officials encourage parents to apply for the program online as soon as possible, so they can benefit from the free or reduced lunches for the first day of school on Aug. 8.
The application can be filled out online at:
Nagy said they are offering the use of school computers and library computers to families which may not have access to one.
“The online applications are much more accurate,” he said. “They get scanned much faster, which allows us to take care of children on the first day of school.”
Nagy said he hopes more families will fill out the online application because it will make the district that much more efficient as they can accommodate children more quickly.
The cost for elementary students to purchase a lunch is $2 and $2.25 for middle and high school lunches.
If approved for the National School Lunch Program it will cost 40 cents for lunch.
The household size and annual income are some of the determining factors as to whether a student receives free or reduced lunches.
For the district to determine if a student is eligible for free and reduced lunches they must provide the names of all the household members; the amount and type of income received; the last four digits of the Social Security number of the head of the household or primary wage earner, along with the case number if receive SNAP, FDPIR or TANF benefits.
A household size of one with an annual income of $14,157 or below is eligible for free meals. For every additional family member $4,966 is added to the annual income.
The annual income eligibility for reduced meals for a one-member household is $20,147 or below. For every additional family member $7,067 is added to the annual income.
A household of 1 means a foster child, a child in out-of-home care, or a pupil who is his/her sole support.
Families may apply for free and reduced lunches at any time throughout the year if their financial circumstances change and they meet the annual income eligibility.
Once a student is approved for the free and reduced lunches, they are eligible for the program for the entire school year.
Nagy said one of the important things about the district’s food and nutrition services is the Healthy Choice Program that is offered to all of the students. The district has a full-time dietician who makes sure the students receive a nutritional balanced meal for breakfast and lunch.
He said they will also provide free breakfast to every student who walks through the door because the state legislature requires it to be offered if more than 80 percent of the students qualify for free or reduced lunches.
“It is more equitable and fair to offer breakfast at no charge for all students,” Nagy said.
The importance of breakfast for students, Nagy said has been shown repeatedly in studies. He said breakfast impacts the child’s health, development, behavior, self-esteem, attendance and academic achievements.
“We are trying to get them healthy,” Nagy said about the students.