All students in Zanesville City Schools could be receiving free lunches this upcoming 2014-2015 school year.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture offers a 'Community Eligibility Program' for school districts with 40% of their students directly certified and receiving assistance through programs like WIC and SNAP. Over 64% of students in Zanesville City Schools are directly certified.
"Everything is school family partnership. If anything is going to work in our schools today it's going to be that combined effort between the school and the family," said Steven Foreman, District Director of Title 1 and Special Programs. "So this is one of those examples, this is something that is going to work because it's going to help the families support the children and we can support them at school. So it's a twofold approach."
The no cost lunch option will aid local families by saving them hundreds of dollars per student that can be spent elsewhere in home life. A typical high school student lunch costs families $405 a year while a single elementary school lunch costs $303 a year.
Foreman stated that according to the 'Reading and Writing Hungry' study conducted in 2008 by the Partnership for Economic Success, one in five students in school systems come into school hungry. This issue of what the study refers to as "food insecurity" sets up an uneven playing ground for students who are all expected to meet the same academic achievements, while some do not have all their basic needs met.
"The important thing is that whole stigma isn't there anymore. You are no longer a free lunch student because I am too. Everybody is. It's a no cost program. So the stigma disappears and once again we're all on the same playing field, we're all at the same starting point," said Foreman.
Zanesville City Schools already offer a free breakfast to students. The no-cost lunch will meet all federal nutrition requirements. Students will still have the opportunity to purchase additional items.
The Community Eligibility Option would eliminate the extensive paperwork process to apply for free lunches. Zanesville City Schools are hoping to know by the end of this school year if their application has been approved. For more information on the Community Eligibility Program you can reach Steve Foreman at 740-588-5539.