IPS administrators confident students will take advantage of free meals

(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – A principal hopes students will get to school earlier since the most important meal of the day will be served for free.

The school board approved universal free breakfast and lunch across the entire district at last night’s meeting.

Most students already qualified for free meals to begin with.

Of the more than 30,083 students in IPS, 86% are eligible for free or reduced meals. But their families had to register first. And it’s that step that won’t have to happen anymore.

From Mary Nicholson Art Academy,  to Charity Dye Center for Inquiry, across town at Joseph Bingham Center for Inquiry and into the halls of Harshman Middle School, every student who attends an IPS school won’t have to worry about where their next meal will come from.

“Everyone should be able to eat,” said parent James Turner.

He was proud to hear the district he grew up in is making sure all students, regardless of their family’s income, will sit down next to their classmates with a tray full of food twice a day free of charge.

“It’s wonderful thing in order for kids to get a hot meal. Some of them don’t get a hot meal when they need to have one,” he said.

It starts with the most important meal of them all.

“We will strongly encourage them to get a nutritious breakfast,” said Gerald McLeish, Principal at Harshman Middle School.

He feels making sure students are well fed early in the day is most important, especially when it comes to making the grade.

“Maybe two-thirds of our students actually eat breakfast.  Students who sometimes choose to not have breakfast in the cafeteria in the mornings perform less well in their academic subjects,” McLeish said.

Not to mention saving students and their parents a few extra dollars a day, a benefit not lost on Angelina Bonilla’s high school son.

“Oh yea, he would love it,” she joked. “Save me (money), too.”

“If you have a hot meal every day or whatever, it would give you some incentive to attend school,” said Turner.

Principal McLeish hopes it doesn’t just lure kids into attending school, but helps them build healthy habits of eating right. A lesson they’ll learn not in the classroom, but in the cafeteria.

“Life-long patterns are built in your teenage years,” he said.

The free breakfast and lunches approved last night won’t start until next fall, but students technically won’t have to wait until then.

IPS is offering free meals this summer starting June 16th. People more than 18 years old are eligible as long as they are enrolled in a state-approved educational program for the mentally or physically disabled.

To find out where students can eat and when the program will end, click here!


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