Fresno Unified Free Lunch Program

August 21, 2008 8:33:35 PM PDT
At Fresno Unified ... Most students eat lunch and breakfast for free.Yet the district believes there are still some parents that are not aware of the free lunch program.

So they're sending out reminders ... And making phone calls that could save parents hundreds of dollars a year.

Hotdogs were on the menu at Yokomi Elementary School ... It's a lunch favorite for many of the kids here including Jonathan Finley.

Roshanda Sears: "They eat a lot of his favorite things. He loves peanut butter and jelly and they had that yesterday."

Mom's happy Jonathan is getting a nutritious meal that is not costing her a dime. All 800 students at Yokomi receive free breakfast and free lunch every day.

Ruth Quinto: "Having a hungry child in a classroom does not set them up well for them learning effectively and efficiently."

Already 80-percent of Fresno Unified students qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch ... but the district wants to make sure no one who is eligible is missing out ... so they are getting the word out to parents.

"Letting folks know that there is nothing frightening or threatening about filling out the application-- that is truly to the benefit of that family because we can feed your student."

When 85% of students at a school qualify ... The entire student body eats for free.

Right now, students at 58 elementary, 11 middle, and 9 Fresno Unified High Schools get free lunch.

If more students qualify, the district becomes eligible for more federal funding.

Ruth Quinto: "What the application then does is allow us to be eligible for more Title-1 funds which go directly to the benefit of those students who are in poverty."

For Roshonda Sears it means one less worry and a savings of about $250 dollars a year.

Roshanda Sears: "I know there are other schools that do charge for the lunch program that I probably would not be able to afford. So here I don't have to pay out that extra money and not have to pack him a lunch and he comes to schools and gets a nutritious meal, so that's perfect for me."

Lunch costs a dollar to $1.25 a day ... And breakfast is 40-cents. Fresno Unified is sending telephone messages in three languages to parents ... Reminding them to fill out those free lunch applications. The deadline is September 26th.

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