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Thomasville qualifies for program that would pay for students’ breakfast and lunches

THOMASVILLE, N.C. — Thomasville City Schools have qualified for a federal program to pay for breakfast and lunch meals for every student in the district beginning this fall.

It’s part of a national program that’s an alternative to the free and reduced lunch program that’s currently in place in schools nationwide.

The Community Eligibility Provision evaluates the participation of parents in food stamps and emergency food programs.

If the percentage of parents participating is high enough, campuses across the nation can forgo the free and reduced lunch program and offer all students in the school free meals.

Thomasville City Schools Child Nutrition Director Brenda Watford said it will be a big benefit for students who can’t afford even the reduced price lunches.

“All the time,” said Watford. “Kids just didn’t have the money to be able to eat lunch.”

Watford said even with just 10 percent of students not on free or reduced lunches last year, they still had many families not keeping up with the bill.

“We have to write letters and call and tell them that their child owes money and they’ll tell us, ‘We’ll pay you when we can’ and now we won’t have to do any of that,” said Watford.

Several other Triad-area schools will also launch the free breakfast and lunch program, but Thomasville is the only school district in which every school qualifies.

In Guilford County, there are 58 schools that will start the program this fall. In Forsyth County, 24 schools will serve up free lunches and breakfasts.

There is concern about lack of participation in the program among Rockingham County school leaders. Earlier this year, they announced plans to launch the program as well, but are still struggling to find the money to cover the costs of expanding their meals.

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