All SCS Students To Receive Free Meals Via Federal Grant Program

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(Memphis) Shelby County students will get free meals next year thanks to the federal government.

That includes breakfast, lunch and dinner.

"Every student. Every day. Every school," said Tony Geraci, who is with SCS Nutrition services.

No matter the family's income or story, every Shelby County student will get free breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

The federal government will pay for it all using taxpayer money.

Geraci said he worked hard to get it.

There's no sign up. No money will even be in the cafeterias next year.

Plus, Geraci said it will save the district some money, because they will get reimbursed more than what a student pays for a lunch.

"It provides access to nutritious meals to kids. Many qualify to receive those meals, but because of the stigma, they choose not to use those meal," said Geraci.

The board will not vote on the free meals.

"It is not going to require a vote. It is an application process and will be a matter ultimately decided by the Superintendent," said a SCS spokesperson.

While that's a done deal, board members will spend the next several months discussing a plan to give every student an electronic tablet or laptop.

The idea is to get students engaged in technology and prepare them for college or the work force.

Purchasing tablets and computers for every student could be pricey. It could cost up to $13 million.

When Memphis City Schools tried this before, one fourth of devices disappeared.

When the district is facing close to a $50 million deficit, some board members don't know where the money will come from.

"You know we will be a smaller district, so their could be many cost savings elsewhere," said board member Chris Caldwell.

Board members said there is a lot of details that still need to be worked out including the price.

If they do approve it, they will start the program in 16 schools, see of it works, and then expand it.


  • GoodCitizen

    It’s not “free.” Productive citizens who are being taxed are paying for those meals. Obama is not paying for these out of his pocket. The Democratic National Committee isn’t paying for them. Regular hardworking citizens are paying for these meals. They are not “free.”

  • Concerned Mom

    I agree with GoodCitizen. My question is why schools have become responsible for feeding children instead of parents feeding their children. Regardless of income or stigma, if children are at school late enough to need dinner and parents are not responsible enough to provide at least one adequate meal for their children something else needs to change. How late are children going to be at school so that they can receive dinner anyway? I didn’t realize that schools had children until 6pm? what is the next logical step in this scenario though. If children are at school late enough to receive dinner and their parents are not responsible enough to feed them at least one meal a day, are schools going to offer dormitories for children to sleep in next so that they can get a decent nights sleep as well because they do not have adequate sleep at home. This is just another step in the direction of government raising our children instead of parents raising children. Follow this through all the way to the end of the logical sequence of events and it becomes an incredibly scary picture indeed.

    • MissTee

      Since I am a teacher, the state has decided that a student’s performance at school is entirely my responsibility. If students do not perform well, I lose my job, schools close, states take over, etc. As long as teachers and school administrators are blamed for student performance, with ZERO accountability held to students and parents, they have the right to do whatever it takes to make sure those students are performing. A good diet is a key factor. A lot of my kids go home and have chips and soda for dinner. Not anymore.

      Also, there is quite a bureaucracy and a lot of forms involved in figuring out who qualifies and who doesn’t. Since the majority of SCS kids qualify, it is probably cheaper and easier to just give the meals to everyone.

  • truth matters

    The title of this article is ignorant and misleading. There is no such thing as a “free meal”. GoodCitizen is correct and Concerned Mom has a valid point. I would add that if this is to be the case, then SNAP programs and the like should be greatly decreased or eliminated. If we hard working tax payers are going to foot the bill for three meals five days a week, then it only makes sense that these parents provide meals for the weekend. A jar of peanut butter and bread and milk is not very expensive. If this is allowed to occur, then my fellow taxpayers you are twice paying for meals for those who choose to live off the backside of your hard work . How does that make you feel? I myself am struggling year after year because of all of this entitlement spending.

  • Charles Elam

    I see that some people would rather see children go hungry and not get the technology equipment which would lead to more success in life.

    Helping children to succeed is less costly than paying for incarceration down the line or a lifetime of government benefits.

    • truth matters

      Get off of your soap box Charles. This is not about wanting children to go hungry. This is about people taking personal responsibility for themselves and their actions. Perhaps if the parents were concerned about their children getting enough to eat they wouldn’t have more than they could financially support. I did not receive “free” lunches while attending school. I took my lunch to school in a paper bag; as I still do at work today. I never had a computer, a word processor, a typewriter, or even a set of encyclopedias at home. A lack of these items did not keep me from attending college or caused me to commit any crimes. I worked three jobs while attending college. I paid for all of my college tuition as I went. My parents did not contribute at all financially and neither did the government. I came out of college with a job earning over $40,000 my first year. If I was able to do this for myself, then I sure expect others to do it as well. I took responsibility for myself. I set goals for myself. I did not have children as a teen or young adult. It was not hard at all to do. If you want to do well in life, it can be done without government intervention.

    • Don

      Why do people have children if they can’t care for them. It seems as if the taxpayers are paying teachers and other employees to babysit and care for the students and that is not right.

      Does this cover all the schools in Shelby County? I understand the suburban schools ore still in Shelby county, one would think they wouldn’t be left out. Whats good for the goose is good for the gander.

    • Joe

      Elam its about parents not being parents—-you had kids and you can’t feed them.?

      Really. And someone sneaks off to Washington and lobbies for free food for everyone

      So now we borrow more money from china to feed kids who should be fed at home

      Democ,rats want this—-they cried for this—-keep on– you will run Out of other peoples money soon enough

      And then what’s ur plan?

  • Jack

    Brought to you by: those who pay their taxes and are productive members of society.

    I have no problem paying for a meal for a child, but that means that your house gets no satellite tv, you don’t have a smartphone, alcohol, or cigarettes. I can’t tell you how many times in my years of child services there would be no food or milk in the fridge, no bread in the pantry mom had a fresh pack of Newports and some sort of alcoholic beverage in the fridge.

  • Working Dad

    Socialism at is best. Congratulations Memphis you have proving that you are incapable of taking care of your children on your own. What ever happened to hard work and self-reliance in this country? As far as these meals being FREE people are not smart enough to realize that the Federal Government is not a business. They get their money from hard working people who get up every morning go to work, take care of themselves, and their families. America is imploding on itself.

  • John John

    Let us pray. Government is great, Government is good, by it’s hands we must be fed, give us Government our daily bread. Amen.

    • langor1

      @John John, great post. Bill and Hillary said it takes a village to raise a child and by God the liberals are attempting to codify that.

      • Charles Elam

        Well, we could all just let them starve. Of course since there are thousands here in Memphis, who will protect you when the hungry hordes decide to invade your premises and take what they want?

      • Nonya Bidness

        Mr. Smith and Mr. Wesson! Tennessee is a castle doctrine state. If you are in someone’s home they are assumed to be in fear for their lives. The hungry hordes become the bleeding corpses.

        Click, Click, Boom!

  • Brian

    You breed ’em, you feed ’em.

    I’d be a bit more thorough were it not already covered well by GoodCitizen and Concerned Mom.

  • CJB

    Because of the government not having their priorities straight, I am having to go hungry myself because I can’t feed myself, keep gas in my car, my roof needs to be replaced due to the fact that I am having to give up so many dollars trying to pay on my taxes. It’s hard out here, I tell ya……………..

    • Terrie

      Oh Charles,
      you are so typical. I will assume you are black therefore continue to feel sorry for yourself & your race. It’s the best excuse you guy’s have to NOT TRY to do anything for yourselves. Besides, the outrage is re: the people on welfare NOW that shouldn’t be, & you know they’re out there! WHY should they be able to sit & collect a check that *I* pay for? Because they’re black? Well guess what Charles. Because of THAT, I feel discriminated against because I’m white! You mentioned mortgages & credits some get. That’s BECAUSE they are working & PAYING for their own! Every day I see people taking advantage of the system. That’s simply not fair & a lot of people are more angry now & are speaking up about it so I see great changes coming. Everyone knows that the people in any power situation of any kind are handing out free benefits to their friends, neighbors, aunties, brothers & sisters under the counter that’s not getting accounted for! I say, its because they are all black & they are “looking after each other” & this I find discriminates against ME. The upper management Gov’mnt workers are doing it too. The teachers getting others to take their test to become a teacher??? Where do YOU find that this is OK?? Just shut up with your Poor as me” story. I’m really tired of hearing it.
      And YES, the monthly checks of these recipients SHOULD be deducted immediately, NO exceptions or I’m going to lie & apply. Simple!
      Single White female getting screwed & NOT enjoying it!

      • Charles Elam

        Single white female

        You have already been screwed, but, yet, you are still single.

        The fact that most poor people, 80% or more work is the thing that you don’t want to realize. Poor people pay, more as a percentage of their pay in taxes than the middle class do.

        Just as people worked to pay their mortgage, most people, the vast majority, work to pay their rent, however, they don’t get credits and/or deductions for their rent, but, they are paying for other people that are buying a house. Explain this?

        This is not a black vs white program, it is operating already in 11 states. These free meals are for anyone, but, it is especially needed in Memphis. Memphis has the largest amount of people poor, living below the poverty line, than any city of it’s size or greater in the U. S.

        I got a decent education and worked hard to reach middle class and remain there. I have never received any government benefits as an adult, however, I realize that some people are not as fortunate and yes, a minority of them are just plain and lazy and race doesn’t figure into that. But, I will not punish the children for the short comings of their parents. I would rather pay an extra dollar or two for food for a child than to pay for the damage and the incarceration fee for them to be locked up in the future (approximately 25 to 50,000 per year) not to mention the grief bestowed on the victims.

        You see, single white female, it is a long hard struggle up the side of the mountain to the top, but, a quick easy slide back to the bottom. You never know what will befall you in the future.

  • Donna concerned parent and worker !!

    How many foodservice employees are going to lose there jobs over this? Both in the scs schools and the newly formed districts? are the new districts going to also have free food for those children? there are many in the newly form districts that need access to free food also.
    Has this even been thought of or considered?

  • PC

    Schools used to educate you so you can work and succeed. Now you see they are teaching welfare, entitlement and dependence. Has anyone ever heard Obama discourage welfare and encourage work and to be dependent on YOURSELF? This country is a disgrace. I don’t want a thing if I didn’t work and earn it unlike the MAJORITY of the maggots in this joke of a country.

    • Don

      Toby. I don’t live in Shelby County either, But you and I both are footing the bill for this. This is US Government money, hence every tax payer.
      Wonder how many school systems are on this band wagon?

  • noneyuh

    Get off your soap boxes. This has nothing to do with underachieving poor people and entitlements. This is simply a money grab and budget balancing move by the local system. The government’s free lunch program was originally intended to assist poor students in public schools. However in order to get more of this “free money”, school boards nationwide have been gaming the system by declaring that a high percentage or ALL of their students are “disadvantaged”, regardless of their actual economic status. This is nothing new and has been going on for years – even in suburban schools. Expanding the program to include breakfast and dinner is merely a way to get more money for your schools. The meals programs will continue to be implemented and possibly abused by school systems until the government decides to change the criteria or perform an audit of systems to determine if the monies are being used as intended.

  • Thomas H. Evans

    Breakfast and Lunch I can maybe see, but Dinner, why? Are schools going to go beyond 3:30pm once this program is implemented in order to feed these children? Who will over see the over see’er of this program to make sure the money isn’t put in the pockets of those in favor of this program like the millions missing under Superintendent Johnson’s administration? Where will the hand out’s end? I don’t want any child that “needs” a meal to go hungry, but what about the Food Stamp money, what will it then be used for under thins program?

  • School Nutrition Employee and Parent

    What Shelby County is doing is called Community Eligibility and it comes directly from the USDA. If a certain percentage of your students are enrolled in the SNAP (food stamp) program then your school system as a whole, or it can be by individual schools, can qualify for “free” meals. The children that are on food stamps already automatically qualify for free meals. The school systems get a monthly list from the state of who receives these benefits and those students qualify. The only positive I see is the families who have always paid for their childrens meals will finally get the same benefits. If it is your tax dollars (federal USDA funds-not local) that are supplying them with food stamps in the first place, then your children should also benefit from it. Look for more systems to jump on board if they qualify. Kentucky was one of the pilot states and has been doing this for a couple of years now. Don’t get me wrong – I agree that it is socialism and nothing is ever “free”.

    • Nonya Bidness

      So what you are saying is that the ghettoites are such trash that they can’t even prepare a meal for their little EBT money makers. You win the award for biggest loosers!

    • Terrie

      @School Nutrition Employee and Parent
      Thank you for explaining this. So now I’m wondering, if these kids that were qualifying to begin with WERE already getting free meals than WHY was there a sudden NEED to get the entire school to qualify? Oh yes. For MORE money.
      Ok, then what Thomas stated is great and there needs to be lists kept by all involved INCLUDING any foods that is being ‘thrown away, spoiled, rotten etc. ‘ i.e.; Superintendent Johnson. How will the situation be handled when a recipient blatantly takes advantage of this? What will happen to them? How much will these parents monthly checks be deducted?
      And why are the schools open so late? Are the parents going to join the kids or will a goodie bags be sent home? Don’t forget the free what was it, laptops or tablets? Really?? And the over see’ers from the past should NOT be in charge of this.

  • not giving it

    “Plus, Geraci said it will save the district some money, because they will get reimbursed more than what a student pays for a lunch.”

    This sounds incredibly fraudulent to me. Anyone else?

  • lol@SBS

    i am having as many kids as i can now… free clothing thru the govt, free food thru the govt, free computers thru the govt, free housing thru the govt, AND i get paid to do nothing thru the govt bc i’m “actively” looking for work

      • mission

        Open your eyes and what color of people do you see the most of? The old Memphis city schools have at least 80 percent black population. Everybody wants everything for nothing.

    • Really?!?

      Mission, that was cruel and ignorant. Was that even called for?!? The program is not offering free to just one race but to all children. Leave it up to some disgruntled and misinformed person to leave a comment regarding a subject they know nothing about!

      Ok folks. So the National School Lunch Program was not created to serve poor people. It was the government’s response to ready our troops as they realized that the new recruits were often malnourished. Over the years, the program has expanded to include breakfast, snacks, summer feeding and supper. I understand the frustrations regarding parents’ lack of responsibility, but do we really want to punish the children if this is the case? Some communities really need it. Not just poor unemployed people but also the working poor. There are a lot of people out there working to keep a roof over their heads, put food on the table, pay back student loans, etc and this one benefit is one less that they have to worry about.

      Regardless to whether or not we all agree with this program; it exists and we’re going to pay for it. I’d rather see it go to our children.

      • Freedomwasawesome

        1st thing first. The “poor” in America receive money for food. And the reason these kids aren’t eating is because the idiot parents aren’t taking care of the children. We have been throwing money at an ignorance problem for decades. It will never work. We have the most obese poor in the world. And as car as the race comment you made. Free breakfast and lunch is nothing new. But it is new that everyone can get it and only because it’s a federal grant. I’m a working man and Always have been middle class at best but until now my kids couldn’t get someone else is paying for meals. ( cause nothing is free). Why could they not? Cause I work and I’m White

      • Freedomwasawesome

        Oh and before you start to call me a racist. I want nothing more than the black community to thrive. But they never will because they are kept ignorant. They are still in chains but don’t even know it. Government welfare chains! I hate it cause they are born with no chance!

      • Charles Elam

        It is amazing how all of you commenters can refer to something as free or something that someone else is paying for. You are correct, nothing from the government is free, however, it is our money, collectively collected to do the best good for the people. Some people get benefits that others do not get, however it all evens out, somewhat.

        What about the mortgage deduction and the charitable deductions and the myriad of other deductions that people get that some don’t get. Aren’t they paying for you? Why should one get an interest deduction on mortgages, when renters, some of whom pay more in rent than mortgage, don’t get anything? Aren’t these renters paying for your mortgage deduction, which is greater than the cost of the free meals?

        Btw, there are more whites getting Snap benefits, welfare, etc than blacks. Yes, the percentage of blacks receiving these benefits is greater than the percentage of whites receiving them, however, whites have not and are still not suffering from the effects of discrimination in hiring, promotions and pay the same as blacks.

        You should think twice before making comments and/or judgments before looking at all of the facts.

    • Cj

      Vietnam war, Korean War, gulf war, Iraq war and the war in Afghanistan are all bigger wastes of tax payer dollars than welfare or free lunch could ever be

  • 1midtownmike

    Pathetic. This is not the same country that sent astronauts to the moon and brought them back alive 40+ years ago.

    The United States of America has become a “dumbed down society.”

  • PC

    100,000 kids x 3 meals per day= 300,000 welfare meals. I’d guess that at a cost of about $600,000 A DAY! And that’s just memphis schools alone. How much more welfare can this country sustain. We’re already bankrupt.

  • polo solo6

    When you see a starving child on T.V. from other countries(Except Africa) it break hearts and bring tears to eyes. People send money and a lot of times it don’t go to that cause. It’s alright because as long as you believe you helping the unfortunate far away you’re in. Now hungry kids in your city, town, state or country you got a problem. Ignorance in this country is amazing and amusing. Gotta laugh to keep from crying!

  • Teresa

    Maybe I’m simple minded but humor me a moment. The schools almost always have large parcels of land that go unused. What would it hurt to teach kids how to grow food? They could actually supplement part of the cost of the 3 meals while learning something. Grow heirloom, organic food that is good for them if they are going to be there anyway. They get fresh air, exercise, math, economics and all sorts of other skills. Take it a step further and market the vegetables and make some money for the system. If you really wanted to do it right start a compost program every fall, we could take the leaves to the compost pile instead of the dump. Have worm farms at some schools. The simplest things could really benefit the whole system. I’m not talking tractors and such I’m talking raised bed “gardening by the square” real gardens that require only the simplest of skills and efforts once initiated. Different schools could grow a variety of different crops. Not to mention black berries, strawberries, blueberries and small fruit trees like plums, pears and figs.

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