Students attending St. Louis schools can probably jettison their bagged lunches or trips to downtown eateries next school year, as the federal government will pick up the tab for free breakfasts and lunches in school.
St. Louis qualifies for this program because more than 40 percent of families in the school district are on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (a.k.a. food stamps) and/or Medicaid.
Director of Dining Services Charles Clevenger breaks it down by school:
Carrie Knause: 60.43 percent on SNAP and/or Medicaid.
Nikkari: 53.81 percent on SNAP and/or Medicaid.
Middle school: 54.2 percent on SNAP and/or Medicaid.
High school: 40.06 percent on SNAP and/or Medicaid.
All schools: 52.13 percent on SNAP and/or Medicaid.
Last year, Michigan included Medicaid as a factor for “direct certification,” Clevenger said in an email, which made St. Louis Schools eligible for the program.
Superintendent Kristi Teall told the school board Monday that final approval for the program hasn’t come yet, but she doesn’t see why it won’t happen soon.
A student survey was conducted to gauge interest in free meals, and 71 percent of 200 students who responded said they would consider eating the free meals.
Talking to the city council Tuesday, she said, “I think that number would go up if we surveyed parents.”
Clevenger, who provides food service to St. Louis and Ashley schools as an independent contractor, said federal government reimburses him based on the number of meals.
Clevenger will receive $3.31 for each of 81.6 percent of meals served and 39 cents for 18.4 percent of meals served.
This year free and reduced meal applications will be replaced with a household survey, Clevenger said. Parents will be asked to fill out the form with their basic demographic information. To incentivize parents to complete the survey, a drawing will be held to give a $50 gift card to one family from each school in exchange for completing the survey.
Summer Food Service Program
Speaking of free meals, St. Louis Schools food service is expanding the Summer Food Service Program, a.k.a. Meet Up and Eat Up, that provides free meals to children during the summer.
SFSP is operated at the local level by program sponsors and administered by the Michigan Department of Education Office of Health and Nutrition Services. Anyone 18 years old and younger is eligible to receive a free meal. There is no registration or ID check. Just show up and receive a meal.
The federal government will reimburse St. Louis food service $3.91 per meal served.
This is the fourth summer that St. Louis Schools has offered summer meals. They started at two sites in 2015 (Clapp Park and First Church of God). Operating only four days a week, they averaged 85 daily meals.
In 2016 they started offering breakfast at St. Louis High School. The daily average rose to 146 meals.
Last year, they opened Morris Pool as a site. While still opened only four days a week, the daily average rose to 200 meals.
This year they added Lincoln Park and Cutler Library as sites and are opened Monday through Friday.
Here is this year’s schedule:
Breakfast at St. Louis High School: 7:30-8:30 a.m.
Lunch at Clapp Park: 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Lunch at First Church of God: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Lunch at Morris Pool: 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Lunch Lincoln Park: 11 a.m. to noon.
Lunch at T.A. Cutler Library: 11 a.m. to noon.
These free meals will be served every week except July 2-6 through Aug. 24.