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Columbia Public Schools

CPS Nutrition Services sets start date for free and reduced-price meal program

Ridgeway Elementary School
Ridgeway Elementary School


Columbia Public Schools will begin the free and reduced-price meal program on Tuesday; the first day of classes. 

CPS Nutrition Services Director Laina Fullum said the district is planning to use the original bus routes from spring and summer meal deliveries at the beginning of the school year.

Fullum said nutrition services will deliver both breakfast and lunch at the same time. 

The nutrition director said she wants all meals to be free for students that qualify. However, she also said the district may have to collect numbers until they hear back from Missouri's state education department regarding their free and reduced-price meal program plan. 

“I’m thinking that they will say that all the meals are free based on the eight Title I schools,” Fullum said.

According to the CPS website, Title I schools are schools with a high percentage of children from low-income families.  

Fullum said she wants to meet the needs of virtual students that qualify for the meal program.

Tera Eckerle, a CPS parent, said as a single mother who works, she felt overwhelmed with trying to figure out how she would be able to work everything out and care for her sons. 

For Eckerle, that's when the free and reduced-price meal program came into the equation. 

She said the program has made a huge impact on her family.

“It’s definitely improved our way of life because I can spend more time trying to focus on the online learning rather than now having to go to the store and having to buy breakfast food,” Eckerle. “It has made a huge impact in our daily lives.”

Eckerle said her family received meals this past spring and summer through the CPS meal program.

“I like how they organize the drop-offs and send emails telling you certain times when to come,” Eckerle said.

Fullum said nutrition services will notify families about the meal program and the bus routes through email soon.

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 and more information are available here or at the student's school.

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Riane Cleveland


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