All Preston County students now eligible for free meals at school

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PRESTON COUNTY, W.Va. (WDTV)-- Summer time is coming to an end as students in Preston County gear up for the new school year. With the new school year also comes a new bonus. This means every student in the county will now be eligible for free breakfast and lunch meals.

All students in Preston County now eligible for free lunch and breakfast meals.

"Parents don't need to do anything their kids automatically qualify. All they have to do is send them to school and have them go grab a meal," said Dylan Beitz, the Director of Child Nutrition for Preston County Schools.

The Community Eligibility Provision is a federal program that gives schools in low-income communities the ability to be reimbursed each month for the amount of meals provided.

"It doesn't cover extra milk and things like that. It only covers a breakfast and lunch meal," said Beitz.

This year, Preston High could be added to the list. To be eligible Beitz says 40% of children need to be part of the SNAP or TANF programs.

"It's going to be a benefit for a lot of kids and a lot of parents. They don't have to worry about their child eating," said parent, Shirley Rogers.

Rogers has a daughter who's going to be in 10th grade. She says that she's packed her daughter lunch before to save a few bucks.

"[Now] They don't have to worry about coming up with lunch money every day," said Rogers.

So how much does a school lunch and breakfast cost in the county? Beitz says the lunch costs $1.60 and the breakfast only a few cents less, $1.25.

"It adds up especially if you have three or four kids coming to school," said Beitz.

Rogers is a substitute cook from time to time, she says she's seen first-hand that students rely on these meals and now no one has to worry.

"Kids nowadays are hungry when they come here. This will feed an awful lot of children."

Beitz says all of the schools are expected to be eligible for at least the next four years.