CHARLESTON COUNTY, S.C. (WCBD)- The Charleston County School District (CCSD) says that they have almost 1,000 applications for the free and reduced lunch program and that number is expected to rise.

“As soon as school hits the applications will start flooding in. We can accommodate them all. It will just depend on how many folks apply,” said Walter Campbell, CCSD’s Executive Director of Nutrition Services.

The district’s Summer Meal Program has seen a decrease in students who are using the service, but that’s because of scheduling. Campbell thinks that inflation is hitting families hard and that’s the reason for a high number of applications.

“It definitely benefits our kids out there who are in need,” said Campbell. “There are probably some who don’t qualify. But those are the ones that we are going to double check. We’ll use every avenue possible to qualify.”

Campbell says that since every student was eligible for free meals during the COVID-19 pandemic that his team is able to accommodate a large quantity of applications.

“We are not going to turn kids away,” said Campbell. “If they don’t qualify are meals are still $2.25 for lunch. Our prices are not going up. It’s the same price as pre-pandemic at $2.25 for lunch and $1.40 for breakfast.”

What Campbell and CCSD are hopeful for is that federal legislation will pass and allow more families to qualify for the free and reduced lunches through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

The passage of the Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act would increase the amount of schools in the district that are in the CEP program from 47 to 60. CCSD has 80 schools in its system.

“With the new law that will hopefully get passed we’ll have more schools in the next year that will approved for community eligibility,” said Campbell.

To fill out an application for free and reduced meals in Charleston County schools click here.