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‘It’s a great lift off families’ shoulders’: All Bend-La Pine students to receive free school meals for the next four years

(Update: Adding video, comments from student, district official, KTVZ.COM Poll)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- Bend-La Pine Schools recently announced that all schools in the district will provide a free breakfast and a free lunch for all students every day, starting next school year. Parents don't have to complete any forms or requirements for students to access the meal.

"What we see is kids that avoid coming through, if they have to worry about the financial piece of it. And so I think just to alleviate their minds and make them feel at ease will be great - t's a great lift off of families' shoulders," Assistant Director of Nutrition Garra Schluter said Tuesday.

Previously, the Community Eligible Provision program allowed schools across the state to provide free breakfast and lunch to low-income students who qualified, using both state and federal funding. In Bend-La Pine, only 22 out of the 33 schools in the district qualified.

The district added 12 additional schools midway through the just-ending school year and saw a double in meal participation.

"The government changed the threshold for the meals program at the federal level, which allowed for us to make this possible. And it took a lot of effort on our end to make sure that we could get all of the numbers to work," Schluter said.

Tuesday marked the last day of school for Bend Senior High students and one last lunch before summer began. Out of the 1,200 students attending the school, 38% have been getting free or reduced meals.

One student, sophomore Lin Mills, who didn't qualify this year said she's excited for her free meals next year.

"I would say Bend High, the best school ever, to have free lunch, it's pretty awesome. I'm going to go thank all of the lunch ladies individually," Mills said.

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Isabella Warren

Isabella Warren is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Isabellahere.


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