Free meals dramatically increase participation
Lunch participation is up 1000 children a day with new free meal program
Posted on 08/16/2016
First-grade girl enjoys lunch at Glenwood Primary School
Lunch participation has risen an average of 1000 children participating each day in the first two weeks of school thanks to a federal program that allows children at all grade levels to eat breakfast and lunch free of charge in all Floyd County Schools this year.  The federal program called Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) was part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that allows schools with high poverty rates to provide free meals to all students.

"In some schools, we are serving all but just a few students present daily," said Donna Carver, nutrition director for Floyd County Schools. "Children get the same quality of meals as before and in some cases, we have been able to provide higher quality meals than in the past."  Floyd County cafeterias are offering an abundance of fresh, Georgia grown produce including melons, peaches, apples and vegetables. Carver added, "We continue to look for products that our students find exciting." 

Children who elect to still bring lunch from home are not left out in the program.  A "Lunch Box Buddy" is available for those children and it includes a fruit, a whole grain product like a cookie or chips and a protein that can include a cheese stick or yogurt.  These students can also select a milk or juice to go with their meal and all at no charge. "In some schools, we are serving well over 100 Lunch Box Buddies each day," stated Carver.

Breakfast participation is also slowly increasing.  To assist children in a hurry in the morning, "Grab and Go" breakfasts are available.  These quick options that allow children to eat on the run have been especially popular with high school athletes who participate in morning workouts before school.  

Johnson Elementary is continuing breakfast in the classroom that has been popular for the last several years.  With the option of free breakfasts now available, the school has seen participation rates rise above 95 percent this year.  

Breakfast is also now available for teens at the Floyd County Schools College and Career Academy.  The program is called the "Power Snack Breakfast Program" and it marks the first time that breakfast has been served at the charter school serving all Floyd County high schools.

Student groups requested after school snacks for athletes and others participating in practices after school in Student Advisory meetings last school year.  The Nutrition Department is meeting this need by offering nutritious snacks at no charge to students through CEP.  The snack helps these active children to make it through their strenuous afternoon activities. More than 200 snacks are being served daily to athletes, band members, chorus singers, drama participants and to young children in primary and elementary after-school care programs.

"Educational studies have clearly shown a correlation between student nutrition and being well fed as it relates to academic success," commented Dr. John Jackson, superintendent of Floyd County Schools. "The CEP program is a vital complement to instruction in the classroom as we seek to help each child reach the goal of graduation."  

Photo above: First-grader Bryleigh Scoggin is thrilled with her lunch at Glenwood Primary.

Photo below:   First-grader Hunter Thrasher enjoys his lunch at Glenwood

First-grade boy enjoys his lunch at Glenwood