RICHMOND — Kentucky is one of three states participating in a program that is expanding free meals to students of low-income families.
School districts that have one or more schools with 40 percent of students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals qualify for the program.
Of the 174 school districts in Kentucky, 102 qualify, including Madison County Schools.
The program is part of the National School Lunch and National School Breakfast programs.
Included in the program is a community eligibility option, which allows schools in high-poverty areas to eliminate the use of applications and provide free breakfast and lunch to all students for the next four years.
“Community eligibility is a great way for schools to cut through red tape for themselves and low-income families so that children in high-poverty areas have access to the nutrition they need to learn and thrive,” said Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon. “Schools will benefit from reduced paperwork, parents will not have to fill out duplicative forms, and children in need will get better access to healthy school meals.”
As part of the community eligibility option, schools use pre-existing data to determine the amount of reimbursement they can claim from the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA).
Determination is based on the percentage of households in the community that currently are participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
By using this option, schools agree to provide free meals to all children.
USDA reimburses districts based on the pre-existing data. School districts are responsible for the remaining difference.
To participate during the 2011-12 school year, districts are required to notify the Kentucky Department of Education by July 29.
The other states participating are Tennessee and Illinois.