Thousands of Seminole County (FL) students are being dropped from a free breakfast program at the end of September after state and federal officials decided it was feeding too many affluent children, reports the Orlando Sentinel. The county had initiated the universal free breakfast initiative four years ago, becoming one of the first systems in the state to do so (Florida’s school districts are all county-wide systems). Beginning Oct. 8, only students who qualify for free lunches based on family income will be eligible for federal and state funded free breakfast in Seminole schools. Others will have to pay $1.25 (or 30 cents if they qualify for a reduced price meal). Seminole officials say they will try to retain the universal free breakfast program at 10 high-poverty elementary schools and two special-education centers, but the county says it doesn’t have the funds to keep the county-wide program running without the outside subsidies. Keeping the universal program would cost about $2.4 million for the remainder of the school year. The district expected to receive about $3.4 million in federal funds this school year for the breakfast program. Last year, Seminole served up to 18,000 breakfasts each day at its schools. This year it is averaging about 15,000. Breakfast participation was running at around 5,600 before the program was initiated. Free/reduced elegibility in Seminole County is about 36 percent of the elementary school population, one of the lower ratios in Central Florida.
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