Five more Pinellas County schools will provide free lunches to all students next school year under the federal Community Eligibility Option.
Chi Chi Rodriguez Academy, Pinellas Gulf Coast Academy, Azalea Elementary School, San Jose Elementary School and Dunedin Middle School will join 60 other schools serving lunches to all students at no cost.
Schools can offer free lunches without requiring students to formally apply if 40 percent or more of the students qualify for free or reduced-price lunches — those on food stamps, in foster care, who are homeless or receiving government assistance. Students at Community Eligibility Option schools will not need to submit applications, and even those who wouldn’t normally qualify will get their choice of entrees and as many fruits and vegetables as they want. For a la carte items and extra snacks, students at these schools can still set up pre-payment accounts.
Students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunches but don’t attend a Community Eligibility Option school must submit the traditional application at the start of the school year to receive their meals.
All schools in the county serve free breakfast to all students before the school day starts. A full list of Community Eligibility Option schools is available on the school district’s website.