North Little Rock students could potentially receive free meals provided by federal program

NLR school board to vote on free food program

NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - The North Little Rock school board will vote Thursday on a federal program that, if approved, will make sure your child won't go hungry.

This particular federal program, Community Eligibility Provision, was created in 2011. It allows high need schools to serve free meals to all students, which includes both breakfast and lunch. And it also removes the hassle associated with receiving such benefits.

“A lot of kids may come to school without having a breakfast or any meal,” said Darrell Montgomery, President of the North Little Rock school board.

Imagine a learning environment where every child can put their best foot forward because their stomachs aren't growling. That’s what the district hopes to achieve.

“Kids who start off with breakfast tend to have a successful school day and that's what we want in our district,” Montgomery added.

Director of Child Nutrition, Marsha Satterfield, said the district has always been interested in participating in the program.

“The participation is based on homeless, migrants, and families on SNAP or food benefits,” she said.

In order to feed your child at no cost the district is grouping together all 10 elementary schools, thus creating a "student identifier." 

“That identifier is divided by your enrollment and that is multiplied by 100 to give a percentage,” said Satterfield.

Montgomery thinks the program will make a world of difference in academic performance and efficiency. She said that it's important for schools to provide that for all the kids.

"Anything that increases the number of people not having to worry about eligibility and income helps us to reach our goal,” he said.

Currently, the program does not include middle school or high school students, but could in the future.

“Everybody needs above 50 percent to make this program work and if we put the high school in there, it would be like 48 percent," Satterfield said. "So the reimbursement would not sustain the program.”

Students aren't the only ones who'll benefit if the school board gives a green light. It's less work for parents and administration, removing the application process.

Jacksonville, Stuttgart, and Jonesboro are just a few other school districts in the state who have implemented this program already.

A little more than 70 percent of students in the North Little Rock School District qualify for free or reduced lunches right now.

© 2017 KTHV-TV


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