Some Iowa schools may soon see changes in how they administer free and reduced-price meal programs. U.S. Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack says a new proposal calls for schools in high-poverty areas to serve free breakfast and lunch to -all- students, not just those who qualify under the current guidelines. Vilsack says, “We’ve already tried this in 11 states and what we’ve seen is an increase in school lunch participation of 5% and in the school breakfast program of almost 10%.”
Vilsack, a former Iowa governor, says the program change would see free meals provided for all children in certain schools where now about 40-percent of the students qualify. “Why not just simply let all the youngsters in the school, since you have a high percentage, to access the school lunch program and the free lunch program,” Vilsack says.
While it stands to reason that feeding more students would increase costs, Vilsack says the change is designed to save money. Vilsack says, “We’re not only going to save administration expense, over the next four years as we phase this in, we’re going to see increased participation in school lunch and also in school breakfast.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture says nine million children in 22,000 schools nationwide would qualify.
By Karla James