The Horry County school board voted Monday to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students at a select number of schools.
The program, due to start in fall 2017, is paid for by federal tax dollars and is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010.
The schools – or groups of schools – eligible for the program must have more than 40 percent of students who are already eligible for free meals, according to the United States Department of Agriculture.
Students already eligible include “those whose families receive food stamps, TANF benefits, are migrants, runaways, foster children and designated homeless students,” according to district documents.
The USDA says the program could save local schools money by reducing administrative costs. The program would also reduce paperwork and lunch costs for parents and reduce the stigma surrounding students who are currently eligible for the free meals.
According to non-profit food bank network Feeding America, 23.4 percent of South Carolina children don’t get enough food or don’t know where their next meal is coming from, a phenomenon known as food insecurity.
In Horry County, 24.9 percent of children are food insecure.
Data to determine which schools will be eligible is due April 1, but a preliminary assessment shows 11 schools that are.
Eligible schools include:
Horry County Education Center
Pee Dee Elementary
Palmetto Bays Elementary
Whittemore Park Middle School
Myrtle Beach Primary
Myrtle Beach Elementary
Myrtle Beach Intermediate
South Conway Elementary
Christian Boschult, 843-626-0218, @TSN_Christian