Families throughout Texas are making plans for getting their children into schools, and for many of them ó perhaps more than ever before ó those plans should also include participation in the free and reduced-price meal program.

Thereís considerable difference in knowing the importance of good nutrition to the development of young minds and bodies, and doing something with that information. Area schools are making that point ó and taking action ó through their menu planning and compliance with stricter regulations on what can and canít be served on local campuses.

With lower-income and even middle-income families feeling increased financial pressure with rising costs of lifeís basics such as food and energy, the role the school cafeteria plays in the lives of young people has never been more crucial. Itís long been known that itís difficult for a youngster to pay attention and learn lessons when his or her stomach is growling from hunger. The quality and nutritional value of what is being offered in todayís school cafeterias have never been better, and many would argue the point that what is being served has never been more appealing.

School districts have provided the Bulletin, and as soon as school starts will provide students and the families, with information about how to qualify for this federal program. Itís as simple as filling out a form.

There is no shame in taking the steps necessary to make sure your children have the nutrition they need, first, to thrive physically, and second, to do their best in class.

Itís a decision that can pay immense dividends not only for the children, but also to their academic performance.

Brownwood Bulletin