Parents, guardians encouraged to apply for program

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

School starts in Cassville on Thursday, and Superintendent Richard Asbill is hoping parents, grandparents and guardians will apply for the free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch program.

The application form is now available and determines a household's eligibility for free or reduced-price breakfast and lunch.

"We encourage as many people as possible to fill those out in the effort to see if they qualify," Asbill said. "Income guidelines are on the form. We process the application and based on the score, they qualify for paid, reduced or free. Don't assume you don't qualify because a lot of times, a single parent, or a family with one spouse working may very well qualify, and it's also for breakfast, as well.

"We try to provide breakfast and lunch options for all of our students and there's no reason not to participate in that. It's a strictly confidential process. There's no identifying information. It has a barcode, and you just scan your card like anyone else does.

Asbill said there are some that will not qualify, but sometimes, a family's status changes.

"Or, families forget to apply for it because they didn't qualify last year, but you know, life happens," he said. "Whether parents, grandparents, or guardians, just let us try to help you. This is an opportunity. If it can save you some money, we'd be glad to help you with that."

In the 2014-2015 school year, 61 percent of students county-wide were in the free or reduced-price lunch program.

At Cassville, 56 percent of the 1,933 students received free or reduced-price lunches. At the elementary school, 291 of the 531 students received free lunch (55 percent), and 37 students receive reduced-price lunch (7 percent). At the intermediate school, 198 of the 386 students received free lunch (51 percent), and 34 students received reduced-price lunch (9 percent). At the middle school, 198 of the 421 students received free lunch (47 percent), and 37 students received reduced-price lunch (9 percent). At the high school, 235 of the 595 students received free lunch (39 percent), and 49 students received reduced-price lunch (8 percent).

At Exeter Schools, 72.5 percent of the 324 students received assistance in paying for meals. Exeter Elementary School has an enrollment of 215 students, with 133 receiving free lunch (62 percent) and 33 students receiving reduced-price lunch (15 percent). At Exeter High School, 57 of the 109 students received free lunch (52 percent), and 12 students received reduced-price lunch (11 percent).

At the Southwest School District, 69 percent of students received assistance, which accounts for 559 of its 805 students. There were 437 students who got free lunch (54 percent), and 122 students who received reduced-price lunch (15 percent).

At Wheaton Schools, 67 percent of the 379 students received free or reduced lunch. At the elementary school, 101 students received free lunch (65.5 percent), and six students receive reduced-price lunch (3 percent). At Wheaton High School, 101 students received free lunch (59 percent), and 10 students receive reduced-price lunch (6 percent).

At the Purdy School District, 63.5 percent of students received free or reduced lunch. At the elementary school, 185 of the 281 students received free lunch (65 percent), and 22 students received reduced-price lunch (8 percent). At the High School, 97 students received free lunch (46 percent), and 11 students received reduced-price lunch (5 percent).

At Monett Schools, 59.5 percent of the 2,317 students enrolled received assistance. At Central Park Elementary School, 203 students received free lunch (58 percent), and 41 students got reduced-price lunch (12 percent). At Monett Elementary School, 307 students ate free lunch (58 percent), and 49 students received reduced-price lunch (9 percent). At the intermediate school, 179 students ate free (53 percent), and 35 students got reduced-price lunch (10 percent). At Monett Middle School, 192 students received free lunch (50 percent), and 36 students got reduced-price lunch (9 percent). Finally, at Monett High School, 264 students ate free lunch (37 percent), and 73 students got reduced-price lunch (10 percent).

Shell Knob Elementary School, which has an enrollment of 147 students, was in its first year of the Community Eligibility Provision last year, a federal program ensuring all students at the school eat for free. The provision provided the option for free meals for all students without collecting household applications.

To qualify, the school had to have 40 percent of its students be primarily directly-certified students, which means the state has pre-qualified them for free lunch. That number is then multiplied by a factor of 1.6 to determine a free claiming percentage. The remainder of students still eat free, but the school pays for them.

At Shell Knob Elementary, the school was reimbursed for about 86 percent of the students, and it had to pay for about 14 percent

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