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CPS Nutrition Services works on plan for free and reduced-price lunch as school starts online

cps 5-6
ABC 17 News
Columbia Public Schools Administration Building


Columbia Public Schools Nutrition Services is working on plans for the free and reduced-price lunch program for this school year. 

On Monday the Columbia Board of Education decided to begin the school year online-only as COVID-19 cases continue to rise. 

CPS spokeswoman Michelle Baumstark said district staff are making sure they get meals to all of their students in need. 

“We have our families that already selected months ago that they wanted to start the school year online and within those families we have students who are designated or qualify to receive free and reduced-price lunch, so we were already putting in a plan for those students,” Baumstark said. “Now we have the additional component of our in-person students who we can’t start in-person so we will have a similar plan for those students.”

Baumstark told ABC 17 News in March that half of the CPS student population qualifies for free and reduced-price lunch.

Nutrition Services Director Laina Fullum said they are working on using the same bus routes they used for spring and summer meal delivery as a starting point. 

According to the CPS site, during the spring and summer, CPS had eight buses running multiple-stop routes every weekday. Students were able to meet the bus at the designated stop and time to pick up their meals. 

“It is not an end-all because we want more participation, so we will just expand from there is what our initial thinking is,” Fullum said. 

She also said that because of COVID-19 everything is evolving and changing and the district is going to be flexible. 

Fullum said Nutrition Services is working to have a plan on Wednesday of what the free and reduced-price lunch program will be for families.

The CPS website says families are encouraged to apply for the Free and Reduced Price Meal Program. A new application has to be filled out every year to qualify.

Applications are available here or at the student's school.

Riane Cleveland


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