Blount County Schools has expanded a federal provision that will
allow every child at participating schools to receive free meals.
Thursday's meeting, the Blount County Board of Education added Mary
Blount Elementary School to its list of schools that are participating
in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act's Community Eligibility Provision
(CEP). It will serve free breakfasts and lunches for every child.
Lanier Elementary and Rockford Elementary participated this past
school year in the pilot year. Both schools will remain on the list next
The students' families won't have to fill out free- and
reduced-price meal applications or sign up for the program. All meals
must meet National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast
Program (SBP) standards. Thus, students won't receive free a la carte or
snack items. "We're grateful that the Board of Education has extended
this program to another school," said Troy Logan, the district's school
nutrition supervisor. "We appreciate the board's forward thinking, and
we know that Mary Blount's families will be very excited and pleased to
participate next school year."
The bottom-line mission is simple. "We're going to feed a lot of
kids who previously didn't get to eat," Logan said. "Mary Blount had 65
percent of its student population qualify for free and reduced-price
meals this school year. However, we know those numbers didn't tell the
whole story. We had families who qualified but didn't return paperwork.
We also had families who didn't qualify for free- and reduced-price
meals, but they're still struggling. We're excited to offer this program
"Our motto is: 'You can't teach a hungry child.' The food
service department wants to play a role in education. We want to get
them started with breakfast, then provide them with a good
lunch." Families should be aware they will need to complete free- and
reduced-price meal applications for any child who doesn't attend one of
the participating schools.
Blount County Schools will be reimbursed using a formula based on the
percentage of students identified as eligible for free meals using
direct certification and other lists of eligible students. All children
living in households receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance
Program, Food Distribution Program on Indian Reservations or Temporary
Assistance for Needy Families cash assistance can bypass the standard
process and be "directly certified" for free school meals. Any costs for
serving these meals in excess of the federal reimbursement must be paid
from nonfederal sources. Blount County will absorb these costs, but it
appears at this point that the district has no additional local cost for
the pilot year due to high participation rates at both Lanier
Elementary and Rockford Elementary. CEP's intent is to eliminate the
administrative burden of collecting household applications and to
improve access to free school meals in eligible high poverty school
districts and schools. Logan, who also serves as the district's fiscal
administrator, advised that it has simplified accounting and claims
processes as well. "However, the greatest benefit to our district is the
potential for increased student participation," Logan said. "Our
ultimate goal is to feed all children at these three schools."
In other action, the school board approved:
• Borden Dairy Company's low bid for milk products;
• 13 budget transfers, totaling $125,343, within the general purpose school fund and a $712 transfer to the food service budget;
• and a $9,000 budget increase in undesignated capital to purchase security cameras for Townsend Elementary School.
By Matthew Stewart- The Daily Times