Free meal program expands in Martinsville Public Schools

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MARTINSVILLE (WSLS10) - Now, more than 1,300 kids within Martinsville Public Schools can eat breakfast and lunch for free.

For the first time, the Community Eligibility Provision Program is expanding to include middle school students.

The program was previously only offered to Pre-K through 4th grade students, but because 63-percent of the families the school serves are financially unstable, the middle school was able to qualify for assistance this year.

"It takes that burden of having to pay the cost of the meals each day," said Sheilah Williams, the district's director of school nutrition services. "When you're purchasing breakfast and lunch, parents were looking at about $4 per day. So, over the course of a week that's $20 per child. And, if you have multiple children in your home that can be kind of burdensome."

Williams said the district will have to reapply for the program every four years in order to continue serving free meals.

In the future, the hope is the program will expand to the high school.