Staff from the Grand County School District are urging parents to apply for school meal benefits, though many may not qualify. For the last two years, school lunches were provided free of charge under a federal program that was not extended this year.
According to GCSD Community Coordinator Jeremy Spaulding, the meal benefit program calculates eligibility based simply on family income, which can be a problem in a growing community.
“We’ve had wage increases across Moab, but because rent has also gone up many people may not be in a better position,” Spalding said. “Those are the families that may not qualify for free or reduced lunch this year.”
Spalding pointed out that data from the meal benefit program also determines funding for other school programs, including student fee waivers for athletics and standardized testing, funds for providing computers and internet access to students, and general increases in school funding.
Spaulding said that the district remains committed to having all of its students fed and ready to learn “regardless of income eligibility or account status.” Getting the applications in is just the first step.
“To get ahead of this problem and to be proactive about a solution we are hoping to try to sign up as many parents for free lunch as we can,” Spaulding said. “Although many won’t qualify based on income, if we can show the state both how different the number is from previous years and how much people are paying in rent as a part of their overall income, we’ll have a case for changing the standard to allow more families to qualify here in the future.”
Families with students in the Grand County School District can fill out the meal benefit application at www.grandschools.org. Community members that would like to pitch in to the District’s emergency lunch fund can do so by going to www.myschoolfees.com and logging in as a guest.