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There’s no such thing as a free school lunch

Schools in Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee will participate in a U.S. Dept. of Agriculture pilot program to provide free meals for all students at any school where at least 40 percent of the students are deemed low-income. The Chicago Tribune’s Tara Malone and Monica Eng report that this is part of the “Community Eligibility Option” being rolled out by USDA and that the program will be implemented in all states by the 2014-15 school year.

It’s confusing, though, whether the program makes financial sense for participating schools. The participating schools get federal reimbursement based on the number of needy children that they have. So the costs for meals for non-needy students shifts from the student’s parents to the school district. Stay tuned to see how schools in the pilot states choose to participate.

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