Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Free Lunch Offered For All Pittsburgh Public School Students

Thanks to a federal program, all 25,000 students in the Pittsburgh Public School district will be offered free breakfast and lunch for the next four school years.

The district was recently approved to take part in the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Community Eligibility Provision contained in the National School Lunch and Breakfast program.

“Students who are healthy and adequately nourished can learn and learn better,” said Curtistine Walker, director of Pittsburgh Public School District Food Services.

Starting in 2008 students in 22 of the district’s 54 schools were offered the free meals under something known as provision two, which kicks in when a certain percentage of students in a given school are eligible for free or reduced price meals. 

Every day last year the district sold or gave away 18-19,000 lunches, according to Walker. She expects that number to increase by about 8 percent this year.  

“The children are still identified to make sure there is not double dipping,” Walker said. “And there are still a la carte sales for students who want to augment their meals.

All students in the district had already been receiving free breakfasts.

Walker said the program does more than just help with the nutritional needs of the students. 

“It’s a good way for [the students] to be able to eat with ease and not be identified as being poor or as somebody that’s being seen as rich,” said Walker who thinks it takes the stress out of the lunch period.

According to Walker participating in the federal program will also eliminate a massive amount of paperwork.  Each year parents had to fill out forms to qualify their children for free and reduced meals within 30 days of school starting.

“Getting the parents to submit the meal applications was always a bit of a pain, it was also time consuming,” Walker said.

The district will be able to re-apply for the program in four years.