Students at four Pine Tree ISD campuses will no longer have to pay for breakfast or lunch, regardless of family income beginning in the 2019-20 school year.

Pine Tree Primary, Birch Elementary, Parkway Elementary and Middle schools qualify for the National School Lunch Program Community Eligibility Provision to provide breakfast and lunch to all children at no charge and will not collect meal applications.

Michelle Mitchell, director of Child Nutrition for the district, said to qualify a campus must have at least 40 percent of its students on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Medicaid, which is a new addition.

“When the state added Medicaid as an identifier, then our percentage was high enough that our schools qualified,” Mitchell said.

At the Primary campus, 74.15 percent of students qualified, Mitchell said. Birch Elementary had 63.48 percent, Parkway Elementary had 58.62 percent and the Middle School had 53.49 percent of students qualify. The numbers are based on the 2018-19 school year.

Meal applications to determine paid, free or reduced-prices lunches will still be required for the junior high and high school.

Longview ISD approved the same program for elementary students at its April board of trustees meeting.

Marshall ISD joined earlier in June. Lufkin, Nacogodoches and Gilmer ISDs also participate in the program.

Mitchell said the program will be a relief for parents at the eligible campuses.

“It’s exciting, just the help for a parent to not have to worry about whether they have lunch money on their accounts, to have to try to keep up with that, not having to do a lunch application,” she said. “It’s a wonderful benefit to the school and to parents and the community.”