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Free School Lunches Voted Down by Default

WGIL Newsroom . Local News 323

A program designed to provide free lunches and increase revenue was voted down by the Galesburg School Board, Monday night.

The Community Eligibility Provision is a federal program designed to reimburse the full paid amount for the qualifying students. A few specifics have to be met in order to qualify, such as having 63-percent of students below the poverty rate.

Assistant Superintendent for Finance and Operations David Black says he ran plenty of combinations to try to get more schools into the program.

“This is pretty much the ones that will not cost us anything and will increase our income by providing meals for all students in those schools,” says Black.

Ultimately, the District 205 Administration recommended implementing the program at Steele, King, Nielsen, and Lombard to maximize the impact. Several members of the school board, however, had philosophical problems with the program. Board member Bob Lindstrom says the research he conducted led him to vote against the proposal.

“You’ve got people that can pay for stuff, they can and will pay for it,” says Lindstom. “I’ve never had anybody during my tenure on the board complain to me that they were paying for lunches and somebody else wasn’t. To me, this is part of a federal government power grab to control what we’re feeding kids.”

Apart from providing free lunches, the Galesburg school district would also be earning revenue through the program as they are reimbursed at a higher rate than they are paying for lunches. The District believes that not only would the program continue allowing impoverished demographics to continue receiving free lunch, it would also compensate children who’s families are just above the poverty rate.

The matter was voted down after the board was split at 3-3. Due to state rules, a tied vote is considered equivalent to voting against the measure.

Sources have said that because there was a missing board member, the proposal may come back at some point in the future.