West Branch Rose City Area Schools Offer Free Lunch to All Students

Students at one northern Michigan school district are all getting lunch for the rest of the school year for free.

The West Branch Rose City School District discovered some extra money in their food service account and were looking for a way to spend it.

They decided to use it to provide every student in the district with free lunch for the rest of the year.

West Branch Rose City Area Schools has had a program in place for several years that offered students’ free breakfast and dinner, no questions asked. Now, thanks to extra money in the food service budget, they can also offer free lunch to all students for the rest of the year.

“We looked at it as a way to spend that fund balance down and give back to the community, and the schools, and to the parents and in particular when you look at providing a safe and appropriate learning environment, and a culture for learning, having students not hungry while they’re in school will definitely impact their learning and improve the culture,” said Superintendent Phil Mikulski.

The district says they’ve already seen 230 more students coming through the lunch line on average between their four buildings and it’s making a difference in the classroom.

“We are seeing an increase in focus and it may have an impact on behavior in the classroom. Not every parent has time to prepare a healthy meal. They might be able to pack a lunch, but when you look at what we provide as a district with those healthy meals that certainly helps,” said Mikulski.

The program launched on January 29th and parents say they’re noticing an impact, too.

“These kids, when they go to school, they need to be hungry for knowledge, not hungry for food. When I hear these children are going to be getting healthy lunches, it is great news for parents, parents who don’t have time, who are involved in sports, who don’t always have time to pack a healthy lunch,” said Julie Hock who has 3 children in the district.

The district says they’re hoping to look at ways to try and continue offering free lunch to all students next year as well.