All students attending Marshall County schools will enjoy breakfast and lunch at no charge beginning this Aug.; Marshall County Schools Food Services Director McKenzie Suiter said Marshall County High School and North Marshall Middle School are now included in the program.

"We're very excited about it," she said. "We look at it as an opportunity to feed people who need it."

Suiter said participation is key for the success of the program and the district is hoping with the buy-in and encouragement from administrators, teachers and parents working together, students will take advantage of the opportunity and eat the offered meals twice a day.

The community eligibility program (CEP) is a government-subsidized program that offers the schools reimbursement for the cost of the meals. Eligibility is based on a number of factors including participation, Suiter explained, so for the district to maintain eligibility, students must take advantage of the opportunity.

"In order for this to work, we need our students to eat. If they do not, we will have to go back to charging and we really, really do not want to do that," she said. "It's our goal to feed nutritious meals to all of our students and we see the students who might not eat otherwise. My team and I have been out all summer delivering the summer meals and we see the students who might not eat if we didn't show up. The only way we can continue these programs is if everyone eats."

It's a program that's also beneficial to the parents/guardians of the district's students as well, Suiter noted, saying some families had students enjoying breakfast and lunch at no charge during elementary school, and then were suddenly burdened with the cost when they arrived at middle or high school.

Suiter said the bus riders at each school should arrive early enough to have time to enjoy breakfast before class. She said they're working out logistics and backup plans to ensure the car riders and students who might be running late will still be able to enjoy their breakfast before class as well.

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