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District to expand free meals

The Pinellas County school system is expanding its food program this year, offering free lunches to thousands of additional students and serving free dinners at many after-school programs. At 58 schools, the free lunch program will be expanded to all students and no longer limited to low-income students who traditionally qualify for free lunches. The expansion is part of a federal program aimed at schools with large numbers of students from families in poverty.

The program's goal is to help schools streamline by reducing the costs of processing subsidized lunch applications and removing the need to track students at lunch time and collect payments. Officials say it also can reduce the stigma of students in poverty, since everyone at the school gets a free lunch.

According to the district, students at the 58 schools still can have pre-payment accounts for a la carte items.

A separate federal program supports Pinellas' new free dinner initiative, envisioned as a way to help students from low-income families — many affected by the struggling economy — who often don't have an evening meal at home. The program will be phased in, starting Sept. 9 at Belleair, Belcher and Frontier elementary schools.

The district plans to gradually add schools each week until the program has 40 sites serving a total of 4,000 dinners a day.

PARTICIPATING SCHOOLS

These schools will offer expanded free lunch starting Monday.

ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

Bardmoor

Bear Creek

Belcher

Belleair

Blanton

Campbell Park

Cross Bayou

Douglas Jamerson

Dunedin

Eisenhower

Fairmount Park

Frontier

Fuguitt

Gulfport

High Point

Lakewood

Lealman Avenue

Lynch

Maximo

Melrose

Mildred Helms

Mt. Vernon

New Heights

North Shore

Northwest

Pinellas Central

Pinellas Park

Ponce de Leon

Rawlings

Ridgecrest

Sandy Lane

Seventy-Fourth Street

Sexton

Skycrest

Skyview

Southern Oak

Starkey

Tarpon Springs

Walsingham

Westgate

Woodlawn

MIDDLE SCHOOLS

Azalea

Bay Point

John Hopkins

Largo

Meadowlawn

Pinellas Park

Tyrone

HIGH SCHOOLS

Bayside

Boca Ciega

Dixie Hollins

Gibbs

EXCEPTIONAL AND

ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS

Pinellas Secondary School

Richard L. Sanders Exceptional

Lealman

Intermediate

Calvin Hunsinger School

Clearwater

Intermediate

Nina Harris

Exceptional

District to expand free meals 08/16/13 [Last modified: Friday, August 16, 2013 5:07pm]
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