Florida districts in disagreement on free lunches
- Florida school districts are in disagreement over a new plan for free and reduced-price meals.
- Changes made by the federal government last year, meant to eliminate student stigma and cumbersome applications, would see entire schools that are eligible receive breakfast and lunch for free even if a small number of students don't qualify.
- While 15 schools in Orange and Osceola counties, as well as 19 other districts and 330 schools across Florida, have adopted the changes, officials from Lake and Seminole schools haven't made the switch because they don't feel that the kids who can afford to pay should get free meals.
With school budgets nationwide already stretched thin, this was bound to become a contentious issue. For kids who can't afford their own breakfast or lunch at school, the free and reduced-price program provide what may be their most nutritious — and sometimes only — meals each day. Still, it's easy to understand the argument that kids who can still afford to pay should do so, even if it does mean keeping existing stigmas in place. Complicating matters is that the "universal" free-school-meals program requires at least 40% of a school's student population to fall below federal guidelines — so a majority of kids in a school giving free meals to all students could theoretically still have a majority of kids capable of paying for their own food. Perhaps an adjustment to those qualifying percentages could provide an acceptable solution for everyone.
- Orlando Sentinel Districts differ on offering free meals to all at low-income schools
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