Low-income children in Granite School District who would otherwise pay a reduced cost for school lunches will be able to eat for free during the upcoming school year.

Rich Prall, Granite’s food service director, said Tuesday that leftover funds in the district’s nutrition budget have allowed the district to waive lunch and breakfast fees for families already qualifying for reduced meal prices, expanding the pool of students eligible for free meals by roughly 6,000.

The policy move brings the total number of Granite students getting free lunch to  more than 36,000, or nearly 53 percent of the student body.

"We just want to help our families in the district," Prall said. "If a family is struggling and they can’t afford the reduced price, so therefore the kids don’t have meals, we try to eliminate that scenario.”

Eligibility for free or low-cost school meals is determined by federal guidelines, based on household income levels. And federal funding reimburses local school districts for the cost of meals provided to participating students. 

Granite School District offers daily lunches for $1.50 in elementary school, $1.65 in middle school and $1.75 in high school, Prall said. But students who qualify for reduced prices would normally be charged 40 cents without this year’s waiver.

Eligibility for free and reduced lunches is not automatic, Prall said, and families need to apply and be approved for participation.

“It’s very important that parents know that unless they apply and they are approved as reduced-price, they will not get this benefit,” he said.