Free meals to all students attending all public schools in Pearl River County

Published 3:29 pm Wednesday, August 4, 2021

Students attending one of the three public school districts within Pearl River County will eat free this year as part of the Seamless Summer Option through the USDA.

Students attending Pearl River Central schools will notice new dining hall tables, which were received over the summer, according to a release from Child Nutrition Director Sheila Amacker.  Students attending Pearl River Central High School will have the option to take their breakfast to go from the cafeteria and a mobile kiosk breakfast cart will be stationed near the lobby of the campus. On that cart, students will find a variety of food options, the release states.

“According the USDA, this option maintains the nutrition standards of the standard school meal programs – including a strong emphasis on providing fruits and vegetables, milk, whole grains and sensible calorie levels. This option also provides flexibility for schools to further customize their meal service design to fit their local needs,” Picayune School District Food Service Director Michael Binney said in an email.

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Even though the meals will be free, the school districts are asking parents to fill out and submit an application to ensure funding for this program continues.

“Although we are offering meals at no fee, we are still requesting that all parents/guardians fill out an online meal form at or complete a paper form.  The information must be updated annually and helps our school district qualify for funding to support student services such as technology, wellness programs including nurses and social workers, tutoring programs, and discounts on ACT, AP exams, and college application fees,” Amacker said in the email.

Poplarville School District is also asking parents to complete a similar form by visiting the district’s website.

Within the Picayune School District, Food Service Director Michael Binney  said that the district served 445,421 meals through the program during the previous school year.

At Pearl River Central schools, more than 3,500 meals were served daily district-wide last school year, Amacker said.

Within the Poplarville School District, staff served 255,625 free meals to students last school year, said Poplarville Child Nutrition Director Laine Jackson. She said the program has been an “awesome benefit” to the students and families in the Poplarville School District.