Still Time to Sign Up Students for Free or Reduced Meals

Though the number of Derry students on the Federal Free and Reduced Lunch Program is down from October, School Administrative Unit (SAU) 10 Business Manager Jane Simard cautioned that it doesn’t mean there aren’t hungry kids out there.

Simard gave her monthly Food Service report at the Nov. 12 School Board meeting. 
According to Simard, the lower numbers are the result of an October deadline for reapplying for the two programs. If a parent doesn’t apply by the October deadline, their child automatically goes on “paid lunch” status until they apply.
The missed deadline is responsible for a drop in Free and Reduced for all Derry students, including the following:
• Derry Village, 84 free, down by 2; 20 reduced, down by 5;
• East Derry Memorial, 38 free, down by 2; 9 reduced, down by 3;
• Ernest P. Barka, 138 free, down by 8; 31 reduced, down by 3;
• Gilbert H. Hood Middle, 161 free, down by 16; 63 reduced, down by 4;
• Grinnell, 154 free, up by 6; 42 reduced, down by 5.
• South Range, 81 free, down by 1; 14 reduced, unchanged; and
• West Running Brook Middle, 106 free, down by 1; 41 reduced, down by 12.
The percentage of students receiving either service are as follows: Derry Village, 23.85 percent; Barka, 28.36 percent; Gilbert H. Hood, 30.98 percent; South Range, 26.24 percent; and West Running Brook, 24.34 percent. East Derry has the lowest percentage, 11.72 percent, and Grinnell the highest at 48.28 percent.
The meals are still available to those who qualify, and the percentage of Grinnell and Hood students on the programs proves there is still a need, Simard said  “Susan Boroskas, our food service director, has been working really hard to recruit families,” Simard said.
While the October deadline has passed, the programs have rolling enrollment and families can still qualify, she said. Some struggle with the paperwork, which is complicated, “But Susan can help them with that,” she said.
Three of the district’s seven schools also saw an increase in students being “direct certified” for Free and Reduced meals. Simard explained that Direct Certified means the child is directly certified by the state Department of Health and Human Services to receive free or reduced lunch, because he or she is receiving other state services.
Derry Village School has 61 direct certified students, down by 1; East Derry Memorial, 25, up by 5; Barka, 91, down by 2; Gilbert H. Hood, 107, down by 2; Grinnell, 99, up by 8; South Range, 47, up by 1; and West Running Brook, 65, unchanged.
“A lot of our kids are in that situation,” Simard said. She urged parents who think their child might qualify to contact Boroskas at 432-1231.

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