Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

July 30, 2012

Parents can file for free, reduced lunch online

CROSSVILLE — Parents can now file an application for free or reduced lunch prices online through the Cumberland County Schools website.

"It's a lot easier for parents," said Kathy Hamby, supervisor of food and nutrition for the school system. "The application can be confusing. This asks questions and then uses the answers to complete the application."

Once completed, the application is immediately available to food and nutrition department personnel and can be processed immediately or processed that night.

"It's a lot quicker, too," Hamby said, noting that in the past, applications were provided to students on the first day of school. Those paper applications had to go home to the parent, filled out, returned to the school and handed in to the teacher. From there, paper applications are delivered to the cafeteria mailbox where the school cafeteria manager will make the initial check of the data before sending it to the central office to be manually entered into the computer system.

"This cuts all that out," Hamby said. "It also increases confidentiality and can save a child any embarrassment he or she might feel bringing the application back to school. You see that a lot at the high school level. The students won't turn in the application. Now, they never have to touch the application."

The department also helps to guard confidentiality through its online meal payment program. Parents can add funds to their child's meal account from home, eliminating the need to send money to school with the child. For those on free or reduced lunch programs, other students cannot see on the lunch line payment screen if another student is receiving free or reduced meals.

The online application became available July 1, and parents are encouraged to go ahead and complete the application prior to the first full day of school, Aug. 10.

"If parents do this ahead of time, the determination will be in the computer and they won't have to worry about charges accumulating," Hamby said. Parents are responsible for all meal charges accumulated before the application is processed.

Applications will continue to be sent home with students on the first day of school, Hamby said. The schools want to ensure every child has the opportunity to participate in the program and will ask that those applications be returned. Those not interested in applying for free or reduced meals, or who have completed an application online, are asked to write their child's name on the application and then draw a large X on the application. That application will still need to be returned to school.

To apply online for free or reduced meals, visit the food and nutrition department website at ccschools.k12tn.net and click on departments and choose food and nutrition. A link to the online application is on that website and the application is available in English or Spanish. Please, only return one completed application per household.

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