“The group of people that are just under the reduced limit is the group that we want to help,” Starr said. “If you are even $5 over the income limit, you don’t qualify, so many families in this community are right there on that borderline.”
To participate in Provision 2, applications for Free and Reduced Meals must be completed and submitted to the School Nutrition Department or the school cafeteria as soon as possible.
“The base year for Baldwin County schools is 2013-2014. Therefore, this school year it is imperative that we receive applications from all parents, whether or not they wish to participate in the program,” Starr said. “At the end of this school year, the free, reduced and paid percentages that we end with will be the percentages that Baldwin County schools operate with for the next four years. In four years, USDA will review and if the community’s economic climate changes more than 5 percent up or down, we will have to go through the entire process over again to apply for Provision 2.”
The Community Eligibility Option program is the newest option available this school year for allowing Georgia schools with high percentages of low-income children to provide free breakfast and lunch to students. Beginning in the 2014-2015 school year, all schools nationwide that meet the 40 percent identified student threshold will be eligible to participate in this option.
“The Community Eligibility Option program would benefit elementary schools, but did not benefit the middle and high schools, so financially we couldn’t do it,” Starr said. “In a smaller community like this, if parents are not paying at the elementary school, then they’re going to have to pay at the middle and high school. In comparison, Provision 2 is a benefit for all of the schools.”
For more information about Provision 2, or to submit an application, contact Starr at 478-457-3315, or visit baldwin.schooldesk.net and click on the Online Applications logo at the bottom of the webpage.
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