New State Law Allows More Students To Get Free Meals

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Thousands of elementary students will receive free school meals thanks to a new Colorado law.

The new law expands upon an existing state law, which waived a 40 cents per meal co-pay for eligible students in pre-kindergarten through second grade. Under the new law, students in third, fourth and fifth grade who qualify for reduced meals can also waive the co-pay.

As is standard when new laws pass that affect schools, the board of education in each district formalizes the change by voting on it. District 11, Colorado Springs' largest school district, is voting on the change Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m.

D-11's food and nutrition director says the new state law is a huge money saver for families who are struggling financially.

"Two dollars a week for every week is a financial hurdle for [some] families," Rich Hughes said.

D-11 says this new change will allow them to serve around 1,500 more kids this year. The district says it's not too late for parents to get their child signed up before the school year starts next week.

"An application needs to be completed every year for free and reduced benefits, and that's a very easy process with our District 11 online system," Hughes said.

A link to the online form can be found on the side of this page.

Another big change is happening this year. Milk prices are going up at all schools. Hughes said it's because their dairy farmer stopped serving school districts. District 11 had to find a new supplier, who significantly raised the cost of milk.

Hughes said the new dairy farm are the only one that is supplying milk to districts around the state. He said, "There’s a 30-40% price increase we’ve sustained. If we did nothing that would be a $250,000-300,000 price tag on the school district.”

Kids will now be paying 10 cents more on milk to minimize the cost for the school district.