There might be such things as free lunches for the Columbia Public School District in the coming years. The Columbia Board of Education adopted a resolution Monday that supports gradually raising federal eligibility guidelines for free and reduced lunches.
More families would be eligible for free lunches under the proposed guidelines, and families currently on the reduced lunch program would get free lunches.
The proposed federal changes, which would affect about 7 percent of the 16,435 students now in the school district, would allow a family of four that earns 185 percent of the national poverty level to be eligible for free lunches — up from the 130 percent now required. That means a family of four would have to earn $33,485 per year to qualify.
Twenty-five states have passed similar resolutions in support of the federal legislation sponsored by Sen. Elizabeth Dole, R-N.C., and Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan.
The changes would mean more kids are likely to eat lunch at school, and Director of Food Services Pat Brooks called the resolution “very positive.”
The district would benefit from a decrease in paperwork by eliminating the reduced lunch program and increasing the amount of families eligible for free lunches. Brooks said she expects an increase in participation in the school lunch program.
On Monday, the board also heard an outline of the Achievement Gap Task Force. Skip Deming, assistant superintendent for instruction, said about 35 staff, community members and parents will meet six times during the next several months to review data on achievement gaps and examine resources for addressing these issues. He said the group plans to present recommendations to the board early next year.
The goal of the task force is to eliminate achievement gaps among and between students in the Columbia Public School District.