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Report: Federal Program To Give Free Lunch To All Fla. Public School Students

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File photo of food in a school cafeteria. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

File photo of food in a school cafeteria. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CBS Tampa) - A federal program is expanding offers of free lunches to all students in 67 eligible Florida counties, regardless of whether or not the students’ families qualified for such aid in the past.

According to Florida Watch Dog, the Community Eligibility Option will allow students of all economic strata to enjoy a free breakfast or lunch, courtesy of their school.

The Option is part of the Healthy, Hungry Free Kids Act of 2010, the website additionally learned. By the 2014-2015 school year, such options for free breakfasts and lunches will be available to public schools in states throughout the nation.

Critics feel that extending the program to all students is an unnecessary strain on the economy. Joy Pullman, an education senior fellow at the free-market Heartland Institute, estimated to the website that taxpayers will pay an extra $11 billion for “just the first 11 states that participate” in the program.

She added, “Federal school lunch programs also encourage families to think they don’t need to be responsible for feeding their own children.”

Supporters, however, feel that the plan will be beneficial for families in need, by both simplifying the process of giving students in need access to food and diminishing the isolation and negative stigma such students may have experienced previously.

Detractors of the plan, Pullman included, argued that other families will have to pay the price – literally – for the planned program.

She noted to Florida Watch Dog, “Federal administrators plan to raise lunch prices for middle-class and wealthy families to offset these costs.”

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