Michigan school district qualifies for free meals

PORT HURON, Mich.—Port Huron Area School District students won’t need lunch money next year.

Starting in the 2014-15 school year, all students can receive free breakfast and lunch as part of the Community Eligibility Provision of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

The district began participating in the program three years ago with several schools and has been able to add more schools each year. Seven schools participated in the 2013-14 school year, said Mary Kurkowski, the district’s director of food and nutrition services.

To qualify, a school must have at least 40 percent of its population be eligible for a free lunch.

The district has four schools that would not qualify on their own — Indian Woods and Thomas Edison elementary schools, Fort Gratiot Middle School and Port Huron Northern High School — but the rules allow the district to group them with other schools.

For the 2014-15 school year, 74 percent of the students would have been eligible for free or reduced meals, Kurkowski said.

“It makes sense to qualify the whole district,” she said. “It takes away the stigma, too, because everyone gets one free breakfast and one free lunch if they want.”

Fort Gratiot mother Kimberly Farquhar said offering free meals in the schools is a fantastic idea.

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