For the first time in four years in August the school system will charge most Bartow County students for breakfast.
The county school board Monday, May 20, voted to discontinue the Provision 2 Breakfast Program that provided free breakfast to all students after officials said it would cost the school system almost $300,000 annually to continue it.
As a result, the system is setting the breakfast meal price at $1.50 for full pay students in all schools beginning in August.
Students classified for reduced-price meals would receive breakfast for 30 cents, while students classified for free meals would receive breakfast at no cost.
School Nutrition Services Department director Oreal Oladele said the anticipated deficit in the school nutrition budget came after the county school system saw the number of students in the free and reduced meal program decrease in the past four years.
Bartow County schools provided the breakfast program since 2016 as part of its participation in the federal National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program, Oladele said.
The Provision 2 program allowed students to eat breakfast at no cost, regardless of payment eligibility status.
The system participated due to a “large number of students qualifying for assistance throughout the county,” a news release stated.
Oladele said reimbursement to her department was determined based on the first-year claims percentage in 2016 — which was 58 percent — and used for the remaining three years.
However, free and reduced meal percentages decreased to 55 percent systemwide this year. Because of the decrease, a formula used to determine the system’s cost would leave the school system with an almost $300,000 loss, Oladele said.
The only schools which showed increases during the four-year period were Cass Middle School and Mission Road Elementary, she said.
Lunch prices will remain the same, officials said.
Families must reapply for the free and reduced meal status each year. Applications will be sent home with students the first day of school, Oladele said.
However, parents and guardians can go to www.bartowcountyschoolnutrition.com to apply for faster processing, Oladele said.
She also said student accounts can be managed online by visiting www.MyPaymentsPlus.com. The system eliminates the need to send checks to school or worry about lost or forgotten lunch money, she said.
At no cost, the MyPaymentsPlus.com system allows any family to create a free, secured account to manage all students’ meal purchases; check student’s current account balance; monitor the items students purchase in the cafeteria; and create settings to receive email notifications when the account reaches a low balance, Oladele said.