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Free School Lunches to be Provided for More Blaine County School District Students
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Wednesday, November 30, 2022
 

BY JERRY GALLAGHER

Funding from the Blaine County Education Foundation will ensure more students gain access to free breakfast and lunch meals daily.

The Blaine County School District Board of Trustees have voted to accept the foundation’s donation, which will help ensure all students who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals will not need to pay for breakfast or lunch for the rest of the school year. Additionally, the funds will allow the district to extend free meals to more students by expanding the federal income eligibility guidelines.

The Blaine County Education Foundation was able to raise the money for the donation via the generosity of community members and 100 Men Who Care which recently gave $9,118 to the Blaine County Education Foundation for the School Meal Support Program

Given the high cost of living in Blaine County, district leaders and board members believe these adjusted guidelines better reflect the needs of students and families in the community. 

“A single mom with tears in my office shared that she makes too much money working at a gas station to qualify for even reduced-priced lunches,” said Kenna Stoops, Child Nutrition Administrator for BCSD’s Finance Department. “Another stressed mom called, crying because she did not qualify for reduced meals, even though her rent was just $300 less than her monthly income.”

In recent years, families who have seen even slight pay raises have suddenly found themselves no longer qualifying for free or reduced-price meals. At the same time, the cost of living has skyrocketed, creating financial hardships for working-class families.  

Trustee Lara Stone noted the potential impact on student achievement, as students perform better in school when they are not hungry.

BCSD has now expanded the eligibility for free meals to 150 percent of the federal income eligibility guidelines. The district will immediately accept qualified families to the program that had been previously denied. Students currently enrolled in the federal reduced-priced lunch program are also receiving notices that their portion of the lunch costs are now free thanks to the support of the Blaine County Education Foundation.

For more information, contact Kenna Stoops at 208-578-5018 or kstoops@blainecountyschools.org. Donations can be made at https://www.supportbcef.org/.

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