Starting next week, DPS is making lunch free at 81 schools around the district. The hope is to get more children to go through the cafeteria.
"In a time when our country and our local economy and people are dealing with a lot of economic hardship, we hope this is something that will help some families," DPS Chief Operating Officer David Suppes said.
"It means that they care," Lakisha Newell, a parent eating with her child for a Thanksgiving feast at Hallett Elementary School, said.
The program came about because for some reason, students who already qualified for a free lunch due to income were not taking them. School leaders believed that some children did not want their friends to know they were poor.
"Sometimes it can be something like that," Newell said.
By making lunch free for every student, district leaders hope more students will go through the lunch line, especially students who qualify for the federal free and reduced lunch program. If they do, the district will actually make money by giving away lunch for free.
"Giving away lunch means you're making money, I don't know. I don't how that works," Newell said.
It works because the federal government will pay, by law, the district more money because more free and reduced lunch students would be eating.
"Making more money by feeding the kids, then there's, that's a win-win for the kids," Linwood Sydnor, another Hallett parent, said. "Regardless of what's being served, if it's free for everybody, the kids are going to want to eat."
"Not only can we provide food cost effectively, but also how can we provide fresh and nutritious food," Suppes said.
"I hope it spreads throughout all the other schools here in Denver, so every kid gets a free a lunch," Sydnor said.
DPS also launched a cook-from-scratch program this year. The program is starting with a few dozen schools, but district leaders hope to have all its schools using fresh ingredients within three years.
(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)