JMCSS students eat free meals thanks to national program


JACKSON, Tenn. — The Arlington Elementary cafeteria was empty Thursday afternoon, but behind the scenes, cafeteria workers were hard at work.

“We’re getting our deliveries in,” School Nutrition Field Supervisor Rena Harris said. “We’re putting up stock, and several of our cafeteria managers are preparing for the students to come in tomorrow.”

Harris said on an average day 600 students will come through the school’s lunch line.

And of that number, all of them will receive their lunch absolutely free.

“It helps the children to focus, and it helps the parents,” Harris said. “It’s really just a win-win for everybody.”

This is the fourth year the Jackson-Madison County School System will serve breakfast and lunch free of charge thanks to the Community Eligibility Provision.

The program reimburses school districts in low-income areas for providing free meals.

Harris said the program also changes how schools serve breakfast. Instead of being served through a cafeteria line, breakfast is delivered to the classrooms.

“It has been proven that when students start their day off in the classroom, they have a higher success rate for academics, and it also helps with tardiness,” Harris said.

For lunch, students can choose from up to four options a day.

Harris said they make options the students love but are healthy at the same time.

“We have a really great chicken sandwich the kids really love,” she said. “We also offer things like whole-grain pizza, and the kids really love that.”

The Community Eligibility Provision means nearly 13,000 students in the JMCSS will be able to eat for free while school is in session.

You can find a monthly school menu for the school system on their website.

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