Helena families encouraged to apply for Free and Reduced Lunch Program

Posted at 5:34 PM, Aug 22, 2022

HELENA — The Free and Reduced Lunch Program is back at Helena Public Schools for the 2022-23 school year.. The district is encouraging parents to apply now before the school year begins.

Unlike past years during the pandemic, school meals will no longer be covered unless the family qualifies for the free or reduced program.

The district is encouraging all families to apply even if they think they may not qualify.

When you apply for the program, you have the possibility to not only help feed your kids but can also possibly help the school district. The number of student households that qualify for the Free and Reduced Lunch Program directly affects the district’s federal funding. Approved applications result in additional funding for things such as staffing, math and literacy curriculum, classroom and academic supplies, and assistance with covering extra-curricular activity costs for students in need.

“You can get free salad bars, hot entrees made fresh for you each time so the parents don’t have to go all over town trying to buy stuff to make their meals. We can make sure that they’re nutritious, lots of whole grains, fresh fruits and vegetables. And better nutrition for kids to be able to learn better 'cause they have more nutrition and more of a variety of foods they can have that helps them learn better, as well,” says Robert Worthy, the Food Service Director for Helena Public Schools.

This year’s breakfast will cost $2.00 for each student. Elementary school lunches are $2.90, while lunches for middle and high school students are $3.00. Those who qualify for reduced breakfast and lunch will get those meals for $0.30 or $0.40 respectively. That is an 85% reduction in the cost of meals.

To qualify for the program you must either fill out the application form and meet certain income criteria, be a foster parent, or be receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families Program (TANF) or Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

Helena Public Schools wants to encourage parents to apply nowbefore the school year begins.