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At the end of the 2005-06 school year, 33 per- cent of the students in the Sarasota County Schools were eligible for free or reduced- price meals. By the time the 2013-14 school year ended in late May, that figure was up to 52.18 percent, Beverly Girard, director of Food and Nutrition Services for the dis- trict, told the School Board during its regu- lar meeting on July 22. The U.S. Department of Agriculture has fund- ing available for a Universal Free Breakfast Program, and the state over the past two years has proposed districts make use of that money, she said. However, "We have n o t g o n e i n t h a t direction in the past, assuming that our free and reduced [meal eli- gibility] would start to level off, and it has certainly not." Beverly Girard, director of Food and Nutrition Services for the Sarasota County Schools, explains the new breakfast program on July 22. Photos by Rachel Hackney REMOVING A STIGMA THE SCHOOL BOARD HAS TO HOLD ONE MORE PUBLIC HEARING IN AUGUST BEFORE IT CAN IMPLEMENT A UNIVERSAL FREE BREAKFAST PROGRAM AT EIGHT SCHOOLS It removes a stigma from those children who are attending those schools already. Beverly Girard Director Food and Nutrition Services Sarasota County Schools By Rachel Brown Hackney Editor

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