(WBIR-Downtown Knoxville) Some Knox County families will get some good news later this summer: free meals at school for their kids.
For students in financial need, free and reduced price lunches are nothing new. But a federal program takes away the income requirements so all children at certain schools will be able to eat for free.
The program takes the paper work out of free meals at schools in low income areas. All the kids at certain school can eat breakfast and lunch for free no matter what their family income is.
"It gives a way for them to be able to come and eat with us both meals and not have to worry about whether or not their financial situation is identified as they come through the serving line," Jon Dickl said.
Any stigma goes away when all students eat free.
Jon Dickl is executive Director of School Nutrition for Knox County Schools.
"We are always committed to serving a variety of nutritious meals and that will not change under that program," he said.
The numbers will change. Knox County has served about 38,000 lunches a day and about 13,000 breakfasts a day. The new program will mean more meals for more children.
What's not clear yet is which schools will qualify for the USDA program called The Community Eligibility Provision.
"We're still working with the state to identify schools that will participate. Right now we're guessing about 50 of our schools that will be approved by the state for us to be able to offer the program to," he said.
One thing is clear.
"We're going to implement this program at the start of the school year," he said.
Jon Dickl has a lot of work to do in the next few weeks. But it's worth it.
"We see a great opportunity to support education in the classroom by being able to feed more kids," he said.
The free lunch program is monitored by the state and fully funded by the federal government.