Central Elementary students to receive free meals this school year

Ashley Inge
Every student at Central Elementary will receive free meals this school year.

COVID-19 has impacted families and communities, with many parents losing their job due to the number of cases rising around the nation. A big obstacle parents have faced with the pandemic is how to feed their children, especially since students have been out of school and at home since March.

Fortunately for children at Central Elementary, this school year just got a little brighter.

Every student at Central Elementary will receive free breakfast and lunch this year, after receiving news that the school was designated as being Community Eligible.

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas. CEP allows the nation's highest poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications, according to the Food and Nutrition Service website.

To qualify for CEP, a school or group of schools within a district must have an Identified Student Percentage (ISP) of 40% or higher. To calculate ISP, a school must count all of the students who are categorically eligible for free school meals and divide by total student enrollment, according to www.NoKidHungry.org.

“Based on the number of students that were enrolled the last five years that qualify for free and reduced lunch, that campus is now eligible to receive these services. We do still have to collect information from families and submit that as we would previously, but what a great win for our community and families during this time,” said Teri Hodges, executive director for finance and operations for SISD.

COVID-19 will make more districts eligible to implement Community Eligibility this school year. Because of this increase in eligibility, more schools can reexamine Community Eligibility for being a more financially viable option than before the COVID-19 crisis. With Community Eligibility, schools and school districts are better able to meet students’ nutritional needs, according to the Food Research and Action Center website.