The Stephens County School System will offer free breakfasts and lunches to students in the county’s elementary schools and middle school this coming school year.
This week, Stephens County School Superintendent Sherrie Whiten announced that the school system had been approved for a program called the Community Eligibility Option for Free Meal Reimbursement this coming school year.
Whiten said that the school system has decided to participate in the program and is excited to put the program to benefit all elementary and middle school students in Stephens County.
“It is going to allow us to offer free lunches to our students in all elementary schools and middle school and we already offer free breakfast to everyone throughout the system, so we will continue to do that,” said Whiten.
The program will not include Stephens County High School, where students will still be charged for lunch.
Whiten said that the school system believes this is a wonderful opportunity for parents of elementary and middle school students and hopes they will take advantage of the opportunity.
She added that increasing participation levels in breakfast and lunch at these schools is a part of ensuring the program’s success.
“We are going to work really hard throughout the year to market this program and build on what we have and really try to make things better, so we do not really see any reason why we would not be able to meet those targets on participation,” said Whiten.
Whiten said that for a parent in elementary or middle school, utilizing this program will save them about $260 in a school year as opposed to if they paid for lunch every day in the school system.
She said the school system will see how it goes this year before deciding whether it will pursue it beyond this coming school year.
“If our families support it and it is successful, we will re-apply for it next year,” said Whiten.
School officials also reported that with the implementation of free meals for all elementary and middle school students in Stephens County, it will also eliminate the procedure of distributing and processing meal applications at those schools.
Georgia is one of 11 states selected to pilot this program.