Thanks to a pilot program of the U.St. Department of Agriculture and the efforts of the school district’s nutritionist director, Audrey Hamilton, all students, whether or not their household income qualifies them for free or reduced breakfast or lunch, will not have to pay a cent for a nutritious meal beginning this school year.
According to Hamilton, the Clayton County Public School System is part of the Department of Agriculture program entitled the Community Eligibility Option program, or CEO.
As part of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Acts of 2010, which was amended by the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, the program will provide free nutritious meals to households eligible through direct certification in high poverty local education agencies.
“Í have been waiting for this to get to this point for three years so Clayton County could come on board,” Hamilton said.
“I told officials with the program that when they were going to expand the program, I wanted Clayton County to be included.”
In order for any school district in Georgia to qualify, it must have at least 40 percent of the population of the school district meet the household income, guidelines to qualify, Hamilton explained.
Hamilton said when Clayton County school officials “crunched” its numbers, the district had 96 percent of the families of its students qualified for the program.
Although school district applications for the program were due last month, Hamilton got Clayton County in before the last week in May.