- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - The Hattiesburg Public School District has joined in a federal program that will allow the district to serve free breakfasts and lunches to every student.

The Hattiesburg American reports (http://hatne.ws/1qinj3b ) the district traditionally has had about 90 percent of its 4,600 students qualify for a free or reduced-price lunch, if the parents of those children filled out the required paperwork. These free meals will be offered with no paperwork.

Stephanie Hoze, the district’s director of child nutrition, said the current participation for breakfast is about 69 percent and Hoze expects that to go up to 77 percent. She expects lunch participation to increase from 85 percent to 91 percent.

“The Hattiesburg Public School District has made a commitment to ensure that hungry students are getting enough nutritious food each day. Beginning Aug. 6, we will implement the Community Eligibility Provision.

“This new option allows high-poverty school districts to forgo collecting applications for free and reduced-price school meals and provide a nutritious breakfast and lunch at no charge to all students, regardless of income,” Hoze said.

Community eligibility was included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It began in Illinois, Kentucky and Michigan in the 2011-12 school year.

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Information from: The Hattiesburg American, http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com