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White County High School Approved For Free Student Breakfast/Lunches

/ The Upper Cumberland's News Leader
White County High School Approved For Free Student Breakfast/Lunches

White County High School students can get free breakfast and lunch after the state changed eligibility requirements.

Schools Nutrition Supervisor Tonya Savage said the White County middle and elementary have been eligible for years. She said the state now requires just 25 percent of the student body to be economically disadvantaged for a school to participate. The state gave White County a waiver to implement the plan mid-year.

“Today’s the first day back to school and these kids are going to be hungry when they come back because there’s a lot of them that is what they need, and maybe they missed some meals when they were out, but it’s very important because it helps families,” Savage said.

Savage said she and the school board have been pushing for this for many years. She said the state’s Community Eligibility Provisions Program lowered the economic disadvantage requirements by 15 percent in September. The change made White County High School eligible.

“Maybe the family makes enough that they don’t qualify for free and reduced based on a free and reduced application, their income is too much,” Savage said.  “But yet, they still struggle to make ends meet and it does cause a burden on them. It really kind of helps that middle-of-the-road people for sure that really aren’t getting any kind of government assistance.”

Savage said the lunch menu will remain the same, it will just be free for all students, regardless of their household income. She also said that students can pay if they want an extra entree, but she chooses not to allow students to charge other items because of the risk of lunch debt piling up.

“This is something that I’m very proud of and I know our district and, like I said, our board and all of our lunch staff are, because our main concern is feeding students of White County and taking care of them,” Savage said.

Savage said many students are eligible for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program which makes meals affordable on an individual basis, but that leaves middle-class families still dealing with the financial burden of feeding their children at school. She said she has been blown away by the excitement of the cafeteria staff to be able to take care of every student.

“They are some very hard-working people that have such compassion and care for the students and really believe in what they do,” Savage said.


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