BUFFALO, N.Y.- The school board is close to adopting a policy that would make sure every student will be able to eat lunch at school, even if they don't have any money.
The lunch would not be the hot meal provided for students who fill out an application for a free or reduced lunch subsidized by the federal government. Instead, students get a cheese sandwich, 1% milk and fruit. The funding for those "alternate" meals would come from the school district's general fund.
The district's most recent policy already provides "alternate" meals for students in grades K-4, at a cost of about $49,000 a year to the district, said Bridget O'Brien Wood, Director of the District's Food Services Department. She estimates expanding the program to include older students would cost about $60,000 a year.
84 % of students are already eligible for a federally-funded free lunch, but some don't fill out the application for a number of reasons, including embarrassment, according to Board Member Ralph Hernandez. He says making sure all kids eat lunch is important not only for their health but also for morale.
"It provides them with some alertness, that they know that they're going to get something to eat at 12 or 12:15, whenever their lunch period is, it's just the right thing to do for our student population," said Hernandez.
The new policy will be sent to a committee for review, and is expected to go up for a vote in January.