EAST COBB, Ga. — For the last 14 years, five elementary schools in the Marietta City School District served free meals to all students. This included Hickory Hills, Sawyer Road, Park Street, Dunleith, and Lockheed. The schools were able to do this, because of a Provision 2 classification by the federal government. According to the Food Research and Action Center, Provision 2 is an option for schools participating in the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs to reduce paperwork, simplify the logistics of operating school meals programs, and offer meals at no charge to all students.

But, according to Cindy Culver, the district’s director of school nutrition, the percentage of families who qualify for free meals has dropped considerably.

“We've gone down in the past 15 years,” she said. “We’re down from 67 percent, and we're currently about 54 percent.”

It’s all based on family income. In light of the district changes, families are now required to apply for free or reduced-price meals.

“The main thing is, they're still going to be available,” Culver said. “The only thing they really need to do is apply. They can do that in a couple ways. They can do it through an online application which is the preferred method, or we also have paper applications that are available at the school.”

Changes made to Marietta City Schools free lunch program
WXIA

If a student goes through the cafeteria line and is unable to pay for his or her meal, that student can charge the meal to their account. At that point, the student will receive the same meal as everyone else. However, Culver says that can only be done a handful of times before the student is given an alternate meal.

“We currently have a cheese sandwich with the opportunity to get a milk or juice,” she said. “We're thankful that we haven't had to do that often.”

Culver stresses that free and reduced-price meals are still available. It’s simply a matter of applying. In fact, she says more than 2,000 applications have already been submitted and processed.

“We're here to feed students,” Culver said. “We want to ensure that every student has access to a meal.”

To fill out the application online, CLICK HERE.

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