Back to School: Now is the time to apply for free and reduced meals


Some southern Colorado students are already back in the classroom, and good nutrition plays a big role in back to school success. 

There are already plenty of distractions in the classroom, but imagine trying to pay attention with a hungry tummy. 

According to Care and Share Food Bank, one in five children in southern Colorado do not have enough healthy and nutritious food to thrive. 

Many times, the only meals a child eats all day are at school. 

In Colorado Springs School District 11, the largest district in El Paso County, nearly 56 percent of students were eligible for free or reduced lunches during the 2017-2018 school year.  

All income eligibility guidelines for free and reduced meals are set by the USDA, using a sliding scale. Factors considered in the application process are household size and total household income.

If your family qualified last year, you still need to fill out another application for this year.

New this year in Colorado, kindergarten through eighth grade students eligible for reduced lunches will actually get them for free. 

“The state of Colorado has put together legislation that’s funding the co-pay for all reduced priced student’s breakfasts at the schools that serve breakfast and for lunches in kindergarten through eighth grade,” Laurie Hylee, Free and Reduced Coordinator at District 11, said. “It used to be just kindergarten through fifth, and they just expanded it this year to include the middle school children.”

To sign your child up for free or reduced meals, go to the school district’s website and search for nutrition services. The applications are generally available online or at the district’s nutrition services office. 

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