LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - When school starts back on Wednesday in Fayette County, students at 27 schools can leave their lunch money at home.
Changes to the national school lunch and breakfast program now give local school officials the option of providing free meals to every student in schools where at least 40 percent of the children qualify for federal assistance.
"We're always promoting breakfast and lunch. Breakfast is a big part of the day. The last few years we've been working on that with students because it is very important," said Michelle Coker, the director of child nutrition with the Fayette County Public School System. "We're seeing that a lot of the referrals to the nursing office with the stomach aches are do to not eating breakfast."
Fayette County Public School officials announced today that the new program will be made available during the 2014-15 school year at all 27 eligible schools.
"I'm thrilled that we will be able to provide this service to more than 14,000 students in our school district," said Fayette County Schools Superintendent Tom Shelton. "In order for us to help every child succeed, we have to remove barriers to learning. This will be a wonderful change for the students and families we serve."
All students will receive lunch and breakfast at no charge at the following sites:
Elementary Schools: Arlington, Booker T. Washington Primary Academy, Booker T. Washington Intermediate Academy, Breckinridge, Cardinal Valley, Deep Springs, Dixie, Harrison, James Lane Allen, Julius Marks, Lansdowne, , Mary Todd, Millcreek, Northern, Russell Cave, Southern Elementary, Tates Creek Elementary, William Wells Brown, and Yates
Middle Schools: Bryan Station Middle, Crawford Middle, Leestown Middle and Winburn Middle
High School: Bryan Station High
Special Programs: Lexington Day Treatment, Martin Luther King Academy, and The Stables
The national lunch program will reimburse the district for the cost of meals at those schools, so the program will not cause a loss in funding for the Fayette County Department of Child Nutrition.
"Eating a healthy breakfast and lunch is an important part of ensuring that our students are ready to learn," said Michelle Coker, Fayette County Director of Child Nutrition. "There aren't words to express how excited I am to know that we'll be helping so many families in this way."
Families that had been paying for their children's meals will save $637.20 a year at the elementary school level and $681.45 at the middle and high school level. The total savings for families in the 27 participating schools is more than $2 million.
In order to ensure that the benefit can be available, all families in the 27 schools will be asked to complete the federal free and reduced lunch application, regardless of income level.