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Elementary, middle school pupils will receive free lunches next year

McDuffie County elementary and middle school students will eat lunch for free next year.

High school students, however, will pay a little more.

The county school board approved the revision at its meeting June 9.

Superintendent Jim LeBrun noted that the board had reduced meal prices at its May meeting. But, he said, school officials later learned that federal law requires an increase in prices for full-price lunches each year to reach the reimbursable rate, the amount the federal government gives the system for a free lunch. However, school officials found a way to give free lunches to elementary and middle school students while increasing the high school lunch price from $2 to $2.10.

Breakfast will remain free for all students.

Elementary and middle school students who did not qualify for free or reduced-price lunches paid $1.75 for lunch in the school year that just ended.

Nutrition Director David Moton said the system will lose about $140,000 in revenue by providing the free lunches but will still have a profit of $20,000 to $30,000 next school year.

Moton explained that the federal lunch program's Provision 2, which is based on poverty level, allows a school to offer free lunches to every student if enough students receive free or reduced-price lunches.

Moton said the high school's participation rate, which is only 58 percent, makes participation in the Provision 2 program unfeasible there.

Moton said that under Provision 2 the school system must show a good-faith effort in matching lunch prices to the reimbursable rate, which LeBrun said will rise from $2.59 to $2.76.

Web posted on Thursday, June 16, 2011

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