FARMS: More Than Just a Student Lunch

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On the first day of school, students are bombarded with what feels like hundreds of different papers, all promoting sports, clubs, extracurriculars, and school-sponsored events. However, one of those commonly disregarded papers is far more important than students realize: The Food and Nutrition Services sheet.

Free and Reduced Meals have been an easily accessible resource for students for many years at Wilde Lake, and for people whose families meet the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines, they’re able to receive breakfast for twenty cents each day, and lunch for thirty. Families can apply online or through paper, and all forms stay completely confidential.

The National School Lunch program is federally funded, and all meals are made to be nutritionally balanced for students each day. With menus meeting the requirements of the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs set by the United States Department of Agriculture, FARMS is set to be a healthy alternative for students who may have little or no food to eat, and for families struggling to afford breakfast or lunch for their children who are HCPSS students.

However, signing up for the Free and Reduced Meals (FARMS) program provides students with opportunities far beyond discounted meals. What many don’t know is that when a student applies for FARMS, they are also then eligible for free or discounted tuition at Howard Community College, discounts on taking the SAT, ACT, and AP exams, as well as discounts for Howard County camps, sports, and childcare, extending through the school year and over the summer.

Ms. Shaw, a guidance counselor at Wilde Lake, speaks on the benefits of Free and Reduced Meals. “It provides a service for kids whose families aren’t able to afford the school’s breakfasts and lunches on a daily basis,” she says. “We speak about it a lot in our meetings, because everyone should really be aware of its benefits.”

There are many families eligible for the FARMS program and all of its benefits who are simply unaware of and all the benefits it can provide. For more information on how to apply, or other benefits of signing up for FARMS, go to hcpss.org/farms/ or call 410-313-6738. There is always someone available to help, as long as you reach out and look.