Assignment: Education – Free School Meals

A federal grant allows one La Crosse school to...

There’s something extraordinary going on at Northside Elementary School in La Crosse.

It has to do with lunch, but you can’t see it. However, without it, some students wouldn’t get to eat the food on their lunch tray.

“It’s very emotional for me,” said Lyn Halvorson, nutrition supervisor for the La Crosse School District.

Not having enough money to buy lunch is a reality for many of the students at this school.

“Our mission is to serve kids healthy meals,” said Halvorson.

Beginning this year, this school is doing something that’s far from ordinary.

“Every student at Northside Elementary get a free breakfast and a free lunch,” said Laura Huber, Northside Elementary School principal.

“When we announced this to our faculty here at Northside, they started clapping,” said Halvorson.

A federal program called the Community Eligibility Provision is making filling hungry tummies easier.

“I just feel like we want to serve our families in this district, and make education a good experience for them,” said Halvorson. “Not like they have to jump through more hoops, or fill out more paperwork to prove that they’re in need.”

The need at Northside Elementary is great, based on who is already approved for free or reduced-priced lunch.

“In a building like Northside, it’s about 90%,” said Halvorson.

In the past, each of those families have had to fill out paperwork to qualify for Free or Reduced Priced lunch. This federal program is removing the paperwork and replacing it with food for everyone.

“Our cooks don’t have to follow families through and say, ‘Fill out the application. Or why haven’t you paid for your meal?’ That stigma is eliminated from our families,” said Halvorson.

Which may offer these children a chance to feel ordinary thanks to what some may consider a pretty extraordinary program.