Since August, students enrolled at three elementary schools have received their school-day meals at no cost.
The Community Eligibility Provision program, funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, will cover the full cost of breakfasts and lunches served at James, Douma and Wilson Elementary Schools. These schools were selected and approved because they have a high number of students living near or in poverty. The program “ensures more students can focus on their studies and not worry about being hungry,” said Yvonne Johnson, Director of Food & Nutrition Services. “When students are more focused on learning, outcomes are better for everyone.”
Staff will no longer be required to collect applications for free and reduced-price school meals to determine student eligibility at these schools.
Currently, 65 percent of district families qualify for free or reduced-price meals. All other enrolled students must apply to the district or be directly certified from the Iowa Department of Human Services for meal benefits. James, Douma and Wilson Elementary have the highest percent of their students certified as qualifying for free breakfast or lunch by the Iowa Department of Human Services.
"The program will ease the burden on families living in or near poverty while saving the district money, too,” said Johnson. The program “will reduce administrative costs associated with processing applications for free and reduced-price meals while increasing efficiency in the cafeteria, allowing students more time to eat.”