Granite School District picks up tab for students who qualify for reduced meals

TAYLORSVILLE, Utah — With the "back to school" season just around the corner, many parents are feeling a strain on their budgets. But Granite School District is shouldering some of the burden to ensure students don’t go hungry.

For this school year, students who qualify for reduced meals will receive them for free.

“We had the financial ability to do that within the balance and so we want to take care of our students, give them an opportunity to learn,” said Rich Prall, Director of Granite School District Food Service.

Rebekah Pitts, a stay-at-home mother of six, is applauding their efforts.

“It was only 40 cents for lunch and 30 cents for breakfast before that, but that still adds up," Pitts said.

Prall says every year, seven percent of students qualify for reduced-cost lunch.

“It’s based on family income and family size," Prall said.

Often times, families like Pitts' don’t meet the qualifications for reduced-cost lunches.

Last year, Pitts sent her kids to school with sack lunches.

“For my family, the income discrepancy between qualifying for free lunch and reduced lunch is about over $20,000 and it’s a harsh cut off," Pitts said.

Since the district made the announcement last week, 7,000 people have applied.  If there remains a demand for free lunches beyond this school year, district may continue the program.

“None of this comes out of the classroom,” Prall said. “We’re not gonna sacrifice books and curriculum for giving students free meals. So it’s not a trade-off that has to be made.”

August is an expensive time for Pitts' family.

“With the school fees, and the clothes that the kids need, the lessons that they take start back up again," Pitts said.

But, she’s relieved she can cross off paying for school meals – at least for this year.

“I have a son starting college in the fall and now that money that I won’t be putting toward my kids' lunches, I can give him for food," Pitts said.

Parents whose children attend school in the Granite School District can apply for free or reduced lunch here: https://www.applyforlunch.com/