***For Immediate Release***
May 1, 2015
Contact, Jeff Sheldon
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402) 438-8853
Mobile: (402) 840-7289
More than 100 Nebraska Schools Eligible for New Tool to Reduce Hunger in the Classroom
LINCOLN — Today, the Nebraska Department of Education announced 111 schools in Nebraska will be eligible to serve more free meals to students using a powerful new tool known as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) during the 2015-16 school year. CEP allows schools in high-poverty areas to serve meals free of charge to all students, ensuring that children whose families are struggling to put food on the table have access to healthy meals at school.
The figures announced Friday were an increase from last year, when 94 Nebraska schools were eligible to participate in CEP in 2014. Nebraska Appleseed Economic Justice Attorney Mary Ann Harvey said the data shows an opportunity for schools to ensure all of their students have the food they need to be healthy and successful.
“In Nebraska, eight schools already took up the CEP option in 2015, allowing more children to receive nutritious meals and be ready to learn.” Nebraska Appleseed Economic Justice Attorney Mary Ann Harvey said. “However, many eligible schools have not yet opted to take up CEP, and some of these schools would have the entire program paid with federal funds. These schools would see benefits for their students and administration by taking up CEP.”
Community eligibility began rolling out a few states at a time in 2011 and became available to eligible high-poverty schools nationwide last year. The program is available to schools where 40 percent or more of the students are approved for free meals without an application because they have been identified as eligible by another program, like the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (formerly known as “food stamps”). In addition to helping fight hunger for greater numbers of low-income students, community eligibility also helps schools and school districts streamline their operations and reduce paperwork. When more children eat, the per-meal cost of serving meals decreases.
“Community eligibility is a win-win for our community and Nebraska kids,” said Carolyn D. Rooker, Executive Director of Voices for Children in Nebraska. “By reducing hunger, children are better able to succeed in school, teachers are better able to teach, and resources are directed to children rather than paperwork.”
Following today’s announcement, eligible Nebraska schools will have until August 31st to decide whether they will participate in community eligibility.
“More Nebraska schools now have the chance to follow the successful lead of the eight schools in our state who already are participating in community eligibility,” Rooker said. “They should seize this important opportunity to ensure that all of Nebraska’s kids have the food they need to be ready to learn each day.”
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