Free school lunch provides nutrition, academic success
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MPB Staff

More Mississippi students will receive free lunch this school year. As MPB's Alexis Ware reports, school meals could lead to a better academic performance. 

Education officials say a new policy is helping more students receive free or reduced lunch. The Mississippi Department of Education is automatically offering free lunch to students whose families receive SNAP benefits-- or food stamps. 

Scott Clements is with the Office of Child Nutrition at the Mississippi Department of Education. He talks about how the process effects school districts. 

"Tell those districts of the students who enrolled in their districts in their schools, these students are eligible for free meals they can import that information into their software and the process is really completed for them. They don't have to do really very much on their end at all." 

Clements says about 30,000 more Mississippi students receive free lunch now than last year. This process helps eliminate the issue of students who qualify for the program but would ordinarily not apply.

Regina Ducksworth is the Child Nutrition Director for Clinton Public School District. 48 percent of students in Clinton schools receive free or reduced lunch. Ducksworth says school meals are important for academic success. 

"Hungry children cannot learn in the classroom. If they're hungry then they're not concentrating on what the teachers are trying to teach them." 

Low income families who do not receive SNAP may still apply for free or reduced meals through the traditional application anytime during the school year.