Want a free lunch? Take a seat at your local school cafeteria.
A new federal program is giving Florida’s public schools a way out of verifying whether students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.
The solution: expand subsidized meals to include all students whether they can afford to pay or not.
Known as the Community Eligibility Option, schools and even entire districts can now receive free breakfast and lunch if 40 percent or more of students’ families are identified as low-income.
That includes 83 Duval County schools, 58 schools in Pinellas County and 48 schools in Polk County — to name three of Florida’s 67 eligible counties.
Students whose families receive food stamps, cash assistance or are Head Start eligible automatically count towards a school’s qualifying percentage.