Parents and students at Liberty-Eylau ISD will have one less back to school cost to worry about this year. All LEISD campuses will offer free breakfast and lunch to all students.
The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) in the Health, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 allows qualifying schools to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students. LEISD implemented the free breakfast program in the 2014-2015 school year.
Previously, students could receive a free or reduced price lunch if their family met the income qualifications and returned the required National School Lunch Program (NSLP) form. Schools in which at least 40% of the student population who qualify for the NSLP can use the CEP to feed all students for free.
“The greatest thing about this to me is that no kid has to go hungry,” said Malisa Mathews, LEISD Director of Food Services. “We don’t have to worry that a kid may not eat because their parents didn’t return the form in time.”
Previously, guidelines dictated that students who did not meet free lunch eligibility or did not have the form on file, and could not pay for lunch were given an alternative meal.
“We may have kids who would skip lunch because of the stigma that goes along with getting one of those meals,” Mathews said. “Now every kid can get a hot, nutritious meal every day.”
Mathews and other school administrators met to look at the ramifications of implementing the program.
“We looked at any potential financial or grant opportunities that this program may affect,” said LEISD Superintendent Roger Hailey. “This really is a win-win opportunity for us.”
LEISD held a special board meeting on August 24 to approve participation in the CEP program. The deadline for qualifying schools to elect to join the program is August 31.
Last year 143 Texas school districts and 1,477 campuses participated in the CEP program providing free meals to nearly 1 million Texas school children. The Texas Department of Agriculture website has a complete list of eligible schools in the state.