(WBTW) – There’s no doubt about it, back-to-school season can get expensive.
But for parents at Timrod Elementary School in Florence, one thing can get knocked off the list.
That’s because starting this year, the school is offering free breakfast and lunch to all students enrolled.
“It’s been really helpful, especially because of the fact that you have to pay for school supplies and school field trips and everything like that,” Adrian Devane said. She’s a parent but also teaches at the school. “It’s able to keep a few more pennies in my pocket this year.
Timrod is able to offer the free meals through a federal program called the Community Eligibility Provision- or CEP.
It’s available to schools where at least 40 percent of the student body qualifies for free or reduced lunch.
In South Carolina, that equates to 58 of the state’s 93 districts.
Marion County Schools is one of those districts.
“I just think it benefitted our district tremendously. Going the CEP way,” Marion County Schools Food Service Supervisor Brenda Cross said.
The district has been a part of the program since 2014.
The program ensures the school gets paid for the food they serve, which can help staff improve service.
“If an oven goes down, we can get a new one,” Food Nutrition Specialist Jason Jordan said. “We have money in the bank basically to do that.”
But not every school qualifies.
In Horry County, for instance, only 17 of the district’s 52 schools qualify. That’s why students have wracked up thousands of dollars in outstanding lunch debt.
At the end of the 2018-2019 school year, students owed a total of $57,808.24. That’s up from the previous year’s $43,442.33.
“We do have debt. Not everyone pays their bills,” Horry County Schools Spokesperson Lisa Bourcier said. “We know this is part of the process.”
She says the debt can follow students throughout their public school career.
It doesn’t just accumulate in one year,” Bourcier said. “It does follow the student until their graduation process. They need to pay all their fees before they do the graduation ceremonial walk.”
Schools in Horry County are lenient with students, though and allow them to have a meal even if they don’t have the money.
“We do offer courtesy lunches for our students so no one goes without a lunch,” she said. So we do make sure that we offer those lunches to our students.”
If parents at Horry County Schools do need assistance, they need to fill out an application for free and reduced lunch by October 1.
|North Myrtle Beach High||1,007.59|
|Green Sea Floyds High||193.12|
|Myrtle Beach High||1,993.49|
|Myrtle Beach Middle||1,975.30|
|Green Sea Floyds Elementary||198.49|
|St. James Elementary||297.54|
|North Myrtle Beach Middle||2,937.18|
|Pee Dee Elementary||152.13|
|South Conway Elementary||279.88|
|St. James Middle||413.74|
|Carolina Forest Elementary||1,347.77|
|Carolina Forest High||9,029.47|
|Palmetto Bays Elementary||34.62|
|St. James High||1,495.19|
|Ocean Bay Elementary||517.03|
|Ocean Bay Middle||548.14|
|Black Water Middle||1,372.59|
|Early College High||400.35|
|River Oaks Elementary||991.42|
|Ocean Drive Elementary||224.41|
|Ten Oaks Middle||957.93|
|St. James Intermediate||0|
|Myrtle Beach Early Childhood||42.9|
|Myrtle Beach Primary||62.04|
|Myrtle Beach Elementary||151.2|
|Horry County Education Center||0|
|Academy for Arts, Science and Technology||0|
|Academy for Technology and Academics||0|