Free meals to be offered at 23 Huntsville schools - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

23 Huntsville schools to offer free meals

Under the program, students at 23 schools would have access to free meals. (Source: WAFF) Under the program, students at 23 schools would have access to free meals. (Source: WAFF)

The Huntsville City School Board heard details about a plan that will let many more students obtain free meals on campus. Board members voiced their concerted approval of their participation in the nationwide indicative at Tuesday's board meeting.

Joey Vaughn, the system's nutrition director, unveiled details Tuesday for the program, which will offer free lunches and breakfasts at 23 of the system's schools. Parents will not have to apply for the program; the meals will simply be available at the schools.

"Hopefully, this is going to do away with the stigma because everybody is going to be able to eat for free," Vaughn told board members. "Nobody's got to fill out any paperwork; nobody's got to prove their financial status."

The program, known as the Community Eligibility Program, has gone nationwide following a United States Department of Agriculture trial in eight states. Schools that participate must serve breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge, and those schools will not collect USDA income applications.

Tina Lee has a young girl who may benefit from the program. She said the program sounds like a great idea.

"I think it's awesome; when I was going to school, my mom and dad couldn't afford $4 a day to send with me," Lee said. "I'm not a working parent at the moment, so I wouldn't be able to afford (regular-priced meals), so I'm very thankful for that."

Ashley Brown, a summer teacher at Martin Luther King Elementary, said she agreed with the nutrition director's argument that the program would remove a stigma from families and children facing hardship.

"I don't like when kids are singled out and they feel differently from everyone else in the crowd," said Brown. "I think that it's awesome that they're planning to include everyone."

Funding for the program will come from the USDA, which will reimburse the school for the costs associated with feeding the students.

A full rundown of the details of the CEP program submitted to the board, including the list of schools named in the program, can be viewed online here.

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