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This fall, all KCPS students will be able to eat for free

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Starting in the Fall, all students will eat for free, regardless of family income.

"It's hard, it's frustrating at times," Sarah Rogers said.

Rogers is a 25-year-old single mom. She's putting her five-year-old daughter Ziyan in Kindergarten this coming school year, while getting a degree herself.

"I have to keep pushing myself for my baby," she said.

Rogers planned on putting Ziyan into the free breakfast and lunch program, but worried after seeing how kids were often separated in the cafeteria.

"They're separating them by how much their parents are making. It shouldn't be that way. They're teaching them poor and rich," she said.

A certain stigma was attached to the free meal applications, something that didn't go unnoticed by school leaders.

"It affects parent's self-esteem and student's esteem. To the extent that some would not fill it out and then go without. To go without eating, in order to fit in, it's just not a good situation," Kansas City Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Stephen Green said.

But new federal funding under the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act could change that. One of the requirements for the new funding is that at least 40% of students were in need of the free meal program last year.

Ninety-two percent of KCPS students were. Starting this fall, all 15,000 students in the school district will be able to eat breakfast and lunch for free.

No applications, no income requirements. When kids walk into the cafeteria, they're all welcome to a free meal. Now Rogers hopes her daughter won't have to face a certain hierarchy that comes with the word "free".

"She won't feel like her mom has to make more money for her to have certain kind of friends," Rogers said.

"To have it take place in a way that lets a student and a family to preserve their dignity and respect in this process goes a long way toward helping our families and our students," Dr. Green said.

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      • Ben

        Of course this is good news. Now all the children will be treated equally and their will be no separating the poor kids from those whose parents are a little better off. Good job KCPS.

    • Ben

      The amount this may actually cost you is extremely minimal. You won’t even notice it and because it is feeding our children, why would you even complain? I don’t even have kids in school and I am also paying for their food and their education, but I have no problem with it. So be it. This is America.

    • Nick

      Sure, make the kids get jobs! I pay taxes and want those taxes to go to take care of our children in schools. Having a husband or wife for that matter does not mean that children eat. How many crack/drug dealers do you see on the streets selling their kids clothes and toys for a dollar just to get their next fix. Open your eyes!

  • Sheila Baker

    I’m not saying this is good or it isn’t good but the jest of the story is wrong. Whether you get a free lunch or not isn’t the only thing that tells the other students you are low income. There are many other factors. The kids whose parents have money stand out in many other ways.

    • Ben

      So what should be done about it? This has been the case for generations and it won’t change but there is a big difference between having to stand in the poor lunch line vs seeing the more affluent kids with nice clothes and extra toys. Standing in the poor lunch line is degrading but just because someone has better clothes or a nicer I-pad (whatever that is) does not carry the same weight as that free lunch line for only the poorer kids. I bet some of the kids get teased and others would rather not eat than be embarrassed about having no money for lunch.

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