Families encouraged to take part in free lunch programs

Have you packed your student’s lunch for school yet? You may not have to. Several schools in our area qualify for the community eligibility program. It means every student in that school can get a free lunch, breakfast, and snacks.

A majority of the schools in our area qualify for the free lunch program.

Ballard, Graves, and Calloway County schools all offer free meals to students.

In Marshall County, seven of the nine schools qualify. Only North Marshall Middle and the high school don’t.

In McCracken County, eight of the 11 schools qualify. Only Concord Elementary, Lone Oak Middle School, and the high school don’t. With that much food available to so many children, school leaders say you need to take advantage of it.

Tim "Hoppy" Hopwood’s high schoolers require a lot to keep going. He says they’re, “eating out of house, home, and school, absolutely.”

He says when they were a young family, knowing he could send his kids off to school and they could get a full meal for free was a relief. “To keep food in the house when they were younger, and starting out we had a lot of difficulty doing that," he says. 

Knowing how much his teens eat, Hoppy says sending them off to high school, they’ll either eat nothing, or everything. “I’ve seen my son, Nathan, eat a Big Mac as if it were a Slurpee. Incidentally, making the same sound as drinking a Slurpee.”

McCracken County Food Service Director Sara Hedges says: “We do see a drop in our free and reduced percentage as we enter the high school.”

Hedges says they hope they can offer the free lunch program to all their students one day, but she says they need your help to do that.

School leaders say whenever anything changes within your family, make sure to fill out the lunch forms. You never know what you could qualify for.

“The guidelines change. Fill out another income form, and we can see if we can get some of those lunches at a free or reduced cost," Hedges says. 

Hoppy teens are staying busy before they start back to school, but he says ultimately his children’s success is important, so they can get the most out of their high school experience.

At the schools where the free lunch program isn’t available, your family can apply for free or discounted meals. Hedges says income information is confidential.

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