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More Nebraska Schools Could be Providing Free Meals To Their Students

Nebraska Appleseed and the Nebraska Department of Education are concerned that so few eligible Nebraska schools are taking advantage of the Community Eligibility Provision, part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.  

It allows high-poverty schools to provide free breakfast and lunch for their students.  Beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, the state has streamlined the way it determines eligibility, which will result in more schools qualifying. 

Eric Savaiano, Program Associate at Nebraska Appleseed, says last year Nebraska ranked 43rd out of the 50 states in the number of eligible school districts taking advantage of CEP.  He says the program can help both kids and schools.  

“When schools do take up this option, it often reduces stigma around the free and reduced lunch program. More students are going to eat who are hungry, and it reduces the administrative burden on a lot of schools.”

Savaiano says if 62.5% of students in a school qualify for CEP, all of the students in that school receive free breakfast and lunch.  He says they are hopeful more schools will participate with the new streamlined eligibility.  He says having more students eat translates into more students being prepared to learn. 

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