THOMAS CO., GA (WALB) - Students in Thomas County will no longer have to pay for their school lunches.
All schools in the system are now part of a program that provides free meals.
Students said it is a relief for their wallets and their stress.
With school back in session, it's not grades many students are concerned about. It's their next meal.
"A lot of our kids, this is the only meal that they would receive," said school Nutrition Director Katie Eidson.
But students and parents don't need to worry about paying for school breakfast and lunch any longer because this year they're free.
"I was really happy," said high school senior Nigel Williams. "I don't have to ask my dad for lunch money anymore and I won't be late for lunch money anymore."
This is the first year Thomas county schools have been able to implement the Community Eligibility Provision for Free Meal Reimbursement in the high school.
"The federal government helps us because they reimburse," said Eidson. "It's not free. It's at no cost to the students, but we still have to pay for those meals."
Parents were notified of the reimbursed meals on the first day of school, calling in to make sure it wasn't a dream.
"Several cheers. Asking, 'Is this really true? Is this really happening? This is a blessing,'" said Eidson.
She said she hopes the program will eliminate financial worries so more kids will focus on their grades instead of their lunch money.
"No kid, they shouldn't have to worry about paying," said Eidson. "This should be something that they're privileged to do. So this is a wonderful, wonderful thing for us. We were excited. I was excited."
The school is locked in to the program for the next four years, with an additional goal to promote healthy eating.