SOMERSET CO., Md. - A new program is making free and healthy food more accessible to students.
It's called Community Eligibility and it will make free meals available to entire schools, whereas before, a student qualified depended on his or her individual circumstance.
"Any assistance to help fund any gaps that our children are having will make a difference," said Somerset Co. Board of Education early elementary childhood supervisor Tracie Twig-Holland.
It's the first year Maryland is participating in the federal program.
But so far, according to the Maryland Department of Education, only six schools statewide have applied.
None on the Eastern Shore.
The initiative is available to schools with at least a 40 percent of students at the poverty level. In Somerset County, officials say there are three elementary schools that easily qualify.
"We certainly don't want any students to be hungry," said Leo Lawson, public relations supervisor.
Lawson says they decided not to apply this year because they didn't want to rush into it without all the information, which they didn't receive until July30th.
"I know the system will be looking at it very seriously in the coming year," said Lawson.
WMDT spoke with the state Department of Education about Somerset County's apprehension. A spokesperson said since it is such a new program, there are a lot of questions they hope to answer within the next year.
Maryland is one of four states to be selected to participate for the coming school year, joining seven other states already involved.