***For Immediate Release***
April 28, 2016
Contact, Jeff Sheldon
Communications Director, Nebraska Appleseed
Office: (402) 438-8853
Mobile: (402) 840-7289
More than 100 Nebraska Schools Eligible for Community Eligibility Provision to Fight Hunger in the Classroom
LINCOLN — Recently, the Nebraska Department of Education released information showing 104 schools in Nebraska will be eligible to serve more free meals to students using a powerful, effective tool known as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) during the 2016-17 school year.
CEP allows schools in high-poverty areas nationwide to receive federal funds that enable them 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.
“Feeding students in our Nebraska schools is a high priority, and CEP makes it easier to do that,” said Nebraska Appleseed Economic Justice Director James Goddard. “We know children who are getting the meals they need are better able to learn and perform in school, and that has a lifelong impact.”
To date, Nebraska schools have been slow to adopt CEP. During the current school year, only 14 of the 111 eligible schools are participating. A national report released earlier this month by the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC), showed Nebraska ranked 50th out of all states and the District of Columbia in CEP participation.
“At present, only about one in 10 eligible schools in Nebraska are participating in CEP,” said Julia Tse, Policy Associate at Voices for Children in Nebraska. “This means many schools in our state are missing a great opportunity to feed more children. We encourage the administrators of all eligible schools to seize this important opportunity to ensure that all of Nebraska’s kids have the food they need to be ready to learn each day.”
Community eligibility began rolling out a few states at a time in 2011 and became available to eligible schools nationwide in 2012. 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.
Eligible Nebraska schools will have until August 31st to decide whether they will participate in community eligibility for the 2016-17 school year.
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