CADDO PARISH, LA (KSLA) - When Caddo Parish students head back to school for the 2016-2017 school year on August 15, they'll be in for quite a surprise.
Caddo Parish Schools announced Tuesday they're launching a pilot to provide breakfast and lunch at no cost to the families of more than 30,000 students in 51 of the district's schools.
All elementary, middle, K-8 and 7-12 schools in the district will provide nutritious meals to every child in pilot schools, regardless of household income level.
Families at selected schools will no longer have to worry with forms nor ensuring a student's lunch account is replenished. Instead, every child will be served two meals each day, which adhere to current U.S. Department of Agriculture guidelines for well-balanced meals.
The effort is made possible through federal implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act that allows schools and districts in low-income areas to provide meals to all students at no cost.
"We know all too well the essential role healthy meals play in student learning," said Dr. Lamar Goree, Superintendent of Caddo Schools. "The benefits of moving to this pilot open the door for our district to provide nutritious meals to all students in our pilot schools without a perceived stigma which can oftentimes be associated with a free or reduced lunch process. For our families, it eases their school days by removing the burden of filling out applications or keeping up with how much money may be in a student lunch account at any given time. For our students, it provides the critical fuel each child needs to succeed in the classroom and more time to eat their meals. We see this as a pivotal opportunity to improve the lives of thousands of children across our great parish."
For families with existing funds in student accounts, those dollars can continue to be used for extra items including desserts or other items. Parents or guardians may also wish to receive those funds back and may contact their child's school to begin that process.
Neighboring districts including Bossier Parish and DeSoto Parish also will begin offering free meals to all students this fall.