Edwards-Knox Wants All Students To Enjoy Free Meals

Edwards-Knox Wants All Students To Enjoy Free Meals

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Edwards-Knox is a small school district in the heart of St. Lawrence County. But it's not letting being small keep it from trying out big, new ideas.

One of them is free breakfast and lunch for everyone. It's based on a simple premise.

“When a student is hungry, they can't learn,” said Ronald Burke, district superintendent.

So no student has to go hungry at Edwards-Knox these days. Up to 50 percent of students will come in for a free breakfast on any given day.

Up to 80 percent take free lunch.

Students can remember when it all started one year ago.

“A lot of people actually went to get lunch, instead of just sitting there,” said Peyton Dafoe, Edwards-Knox senior.

Under the traditional lunch program operating in most schools, students' families have to fill out a long application.

They get free or reduced-price meals if their income is low enough. There's none of that needed at Edwards-Knox.

“One of the things we have always found historically is there is a stigma attached to applying for a free or reduced lunch. And a lot of our families have pride and rightfully so,” said Burke.

Small school districts like this don't normally get a lot of attention. But it is now.

Other school districts want to know how the free lunch for everyone is going. They want to know how many students are participating. And how much the cost might be.

“There's been a lot of curiosity about how the program would go. This has certainly piqued their interest to explore the option,” said Burke.

The free breakfast and lunch program at Edwards-Knox is the only one so far in the county. It's costing the district about $70,000 per year.

Burke says the goal is to have one 100 percent of students taking advantage of free meals.

The other school that does this program is the Watertown City School District.

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