Major opportunities for Nebraska to increase school meals for students

Last week, the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) released its annual report on state participation in Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) nationwide.

Nebraska rose in the rankings this year to 43rd out of 50 states and the District of Columbia (up from 47th in 2016) in eligible school districts taking up the option, but remained in 50th place for the second year in a row for eligible individual schools which participate in CEP, ahead of only New Hampshire.

CEP, created as part of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010, became available to all states in the 2014-15 school year. It is a great opportunity for schools with high concentrations of poverty to feed all of their students breakfast and lunch for free depending on a school’s number of students whose families receive certain forms of public assistance.

Unfortunately, Nebraska schools have been slow to take up CEP, ranking near the bottom of the country each year. However, there is renewed hope for next year. The Nebraska Department of Education (NDE) has recently worked to change how eligibility is determined for the CEP program, resulting in more students identified and more Nebraskan students in poverty getting the meals they need to be healthy, learn, and grow.

NDE has worked diligently on this change and we expect it will have a significant impact on schools throughout the state.

May 1st is the deadline for publication of 2017-2018 CEP numbers, and we will be watching closely to measure the impact this added population has on CEP participation statewide. Hopefully, it will move us up in the rankings for this vital and under-utilized program.

The Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom (PBIC) grant is another opportunity available to schools with low-income populations and low-breakfast participation. The grant offers schools financial support for equipment, staff time, and marketing as well as technical support to implement a breakfast in the classroom service model.

Schools are eligible if they:

  • Have over 70 percent of their students receiving Free and Reduced Price Lunch
  • OR, who offer CEP AND with under 50 percent breakfast participation.

Over the last two months, five schools in Nebraska have applied for the grant, and we’re excited to see more interested as well.

To learn more about the Partners for Breakfast In the Classroom grant or how to use the CEP program in your community, please contact Eric Savaiano at 402-438-8853 ext. 126.

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