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Students at two Fredericksburg schools to receive free lunches next year

MORE: Read more news from Fredericksburg

What’s better than a free lunch?

How about free lunch for your whole school.

Thanks to a federal program, all the students at the Original Walker–Grant School and Hugh Mercer Elementary in Fredericksburg will get free lunches starting in the fall.

The Community Eligibility Option, established in the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 allows schools with predominantly low-income children to serve school lunch free of charge.

Any school with 40 percent or more of its students qualifying for free meals, without application, is eligible for the program.

David Baker, the chief financial officer for Fredericksburg Public Schools, told the School Board about the program last week week.

He said he believes the best option for Fredericksburg schools is to have the two schools individually participate in the program.

At Hugh Mercer, which serves students in kindergarten through second grade, 42.24 percent of the students are eligible for free lunch, without application.

At Original Walker–Grant, 80.75 percent of students are eligible for free lunch, without application. This school provides special education, gifted education, alternative education and health services to city students.

Lafayette Upper Elementary, Walker–Grant Middle and James Monroe High School do not qualify.

The program reduces paperwork for eligible schools and divisions because it does not require them to collect free meal applications from students.

At Hugh Mercer, there are 381 students, out of 902, who already qualify for free lunch.

At Original Walker–Grant, there are 151 out of 187 students who qualify.

The school system uses a formula to determine how much it will be reimbursed.

The program is designed to get children to eat nutritious meals.

Robyn Sidersky 540/374-5413