Jefferson County Public Schools will not participate in a pilot food program through the USDA. As WFPL reported, Kentucky was one of three states chosen by the USDA to participate.
The program would give schools in qualifying school districts free breakfast and lunch to all students, if at least 40 percent of them participate in low-income food programs. But when JCPS asked the Kentucky Department of Education about how much the program would cost, the answer was not reassuring.
“We just need more answers,” said Julia Bauscher, director of school and community nutrition services for JCPS.
“Because otherwise that school may not receive the same level of funding for Title I or their family resource center. So it just creates a lot of confusion and they didn’t exactly have all the answers to the questions that we asked,” she said.
Her concern is that participation in the program might affect other state and federal funds, she said.
“Until USDA and KDE have more definitive answers and we know exactly what the implications may be for other district funding we’re going to wait,” said Bauscher who called the program a “work in progress.”
The district will reconsider the option in the spring, said Bauscher. Jefferson County will watch how other districts in the state respond to the program and it will wait for the answers it needs from the USDA and Kentucky Department of Education, she said.
Of the 102 counties in Kentucky that are eligible for the program, only seven had signed up since last week, said Bauscher. The program might make more sense in areas like Pike County where a high percent of its students are in low-income programs because the district will pay less to support the remainder of students, she said.
In Jefferson County, 83 of the 153 schools qualified to participate, Bauscher said. Kentucky, Tennessee and Illinois were chosen by the USDA to be part of the new program.