Program New to WI Offers FREE Breakfasts and Lunches to Eligible Schools

By Michelle Burmeister, Communications Director

Milwaukee Hunger Task Force and CEP

All of our Partner School communities serve some percentage of children from low-income families. This means that many of these students come to school hungry and can’t afford to bring a healthy lunch or pay for school lunch. Thankfully, there are programs available to support these families so that hunger doesn’t distract children from the important job of learning, which requires energy and concentration – fueled by food.

Hunger Task Force made PAVE aware that new to Wisconsin for the 2014-15 school year is Community Eligibility Provision. As explained on the Wisconsin Dept. of Public Instruction’s Website, “The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) is a 4-year reimbursement option for eligible local educational agencies (LEAs) and schools participating in both the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and School Breakfast Program (SBP) that wish to offer free school meals to all children in high poverty schools without collecting household applications.  It is intended to improve access to free school meals in eligible high poverty LEAs and schools.”

Any Wisconsin school with 40% or more identified students qualifies for CEP, and there are bundling programs if a school network has multiple campuses. We encourage our Partner Schools to check your math with DPI and research CEP, to determine if your school is eligible for 100% free breakfasts and lunches for your students. The deadline for eligible schools to adopt CEP is June 30, 2014.

For full information on how to participate, calculate eligibility, and apply for CEP, please click here for WDPI’s Web page that explains the entire program and provides necessary links.

Hunger Task Force shared that breakfast at school has already been proven to reduce tardiness, absenteeism and visits to the nurse, while improving test scores at the same time. Furthermore, the Food Research and Action Center found that 100% of surveyed districts that had implemented community eligibility would recommend it, with positive feedback from parents and staff, as well as an increased ability to feed more children.

If your school is eligible, we hope you take advantage so that all of your students can eat breakfast and lunch for free every day, improving both their health and education.

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