GPPSS offering free meals to students

By: K. Michelle Moran | Grosse Pointe Times | Published September 6, 2023

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GROSSE POINTES — Students won’t have to start the school day hungry anymore.

Thanks to a new state program that the Grosse Pointe Public School System has opted into, all students will receive a free breakfast and lunch for the 2023-24 school year, although there will be a charge for milk and à la carte purchases. Students must have items from three of the five food groups for the meal to be free, GPPSS officials said.

“We are encouraging families that think they would qualify (for free or reduced meals) to fill out the forms as so many state and federal programs use the (free and reduced lunch) data as a qualifier,” said GPPSS Community Relations Specialist Rebecca Fannon via email. “However, whether or not parents fill out those forms, all students will be able to access free breakfast and lunch this year.”

Families who would qualify for the free or reduced meal program can fill out that application online by logging into the GPPSS’s K-12 preregistration forms.

Alexis Bylander, senior child nutrition policy analyst at Food Research & Action Center, which conducts research on hunger and advocates for policies to reduce hunger, said the current income thresholds mean some families don’t qualify for free meals but “desperately need them.”

“So much of this is about the stigma that happens in the cafeteria when you’re lumping kids into three different groups for the same meals,” Bylander said. “Everybody needs to be able to access those meals for free so that the cafeteria is a welcoming place where it’s not stigmatizing to participate in school meals.”

State leaders and others say this program should encourage students to accept a meal, since the students who can’t afford them will no longer feel singled out.

State Rep. Regina Weiss, D-Oak Park, said the program will “help remove some of the stigma that has been historically associated with school meals and the way that this free school meal program has been administered.”

Taher is the new food service vendor for GPPSS this year. To see its planned menus, visit Pointe.

Isabel Lohman, of Bridge Michigan, contributed to this report.