Starting this school year, the Diboll Independent School District will soon be giving parents a break by providing free lunch for their students.Just this week the school district voted to partake in a community eligibility program. The federal program allows the district to offer free nutritional meals to some of its campuses.
Twenty-four-year-old December Simmons is a mother of three kids who are all under the age of 5. On average, the single mom spends $300 a month on groceries.
"It's very hard because I am out of work because my kids stay sick," Simmons said.
Come this August, Simmons will have to add school supplies to her list, when her oldest starts pre-K. However, thanks to a decision made by Diboll ISD Monday, some of that financial pressure will be taken off of her. The school district just approved a federal lunch program. Kerri Sandford with Diboll ISD said the district will now offer breakfast and lunch to its students from pre-K to sixth grade.
"There's dairy, protein and fruits and vegetables," Sanford said.
As of now three out of four kids in the district come from low income families. Many like Simmons, struggle to feed their children every day. However, she believes the numbers could be much higher.
"Some of them may be afraid to apply for the free and reduced rate because they don't want that status," Sanford said.
Diboll parents will not have to fill out paperwork to qualify for these free meals. Federal funding will be picking up the district's tab. However, students will be required to choose from a special menu that meets the reimbursement guidelines.
Either way, the kids will have healthy food to eat and parents will save money.
“Less money coming out of my pocket and more money into my house hold,” Simmons said.
The school district said if they can get a high participation rate, then they will qualify to expand the program to their junior and high school. The program will roll out nationwide this upcoming 2014-2015 school year.