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Free Meals Available For MO School Kids

PHOTO: Thousands of low-income Missouri children could soon have access to free breakfasts and lunches at school, thanks to a federal program that is coming to the state for the 2014-15 school year. Photo courtesy of drummerboy/morguefile.com.
PHOTO: Thousands of low-income Missouri children could soon have access to free breakfasts and lunches at school, thanks to a federal program that is coming to the state for the 2014-15 school year. Photo courtesy of drummerboy/morguefile.com.
May 2, 2014

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Hundreds of schools across Missouri will be able to help ensure their students don't go hungry, thanks to a successful federal program that is coming to the state.

The Community Eligibility Provision means that, once approved, schools where at least 40 percent of the children already have qualified for free meals will be able to offer those meals to all students without additional applications or paperwork.

Jeanette Mott Oxford, executive director of the Missouri Association for Social Welfare, says the program is a win-win for schools and students.

"If in a district that has that high of a poverty rate, we just feed everybody,” she explains. “It saves a lot of money and makes more money available for food, so that we get the biggest bang for our buck."

The program was rolled out in 11 states last year, resulting in a sizable increase in the number of kids participating in school meals.

Missouri schools have until June 30 to sign up for the program.

A list of eligible schools and more information is available on the Food Research and Action Center's website.

Mott Oxford says the program can fill an important void in the lives of many Missouri children.

She says the state is one of the few in the nation where hunger has increased in recent years.

"With the cut in food stamp benefits that happened on November first of last year, everything that we can do to bring more resources into families really, really helps," Mott Oxford says.

Right now, one in four Missouri families with children is food insecure, according to the Missouri Association for Social Welfare.

That means they do not have consistent access to sufficient, nutritious food.



Mona Shand, Public News Service - MO