Schools Can Reduce Paperwork and Provide More Free Lunches
On July 1st this year, all schools in Arizona and in states across the country will have access to a powerful new tool that allows schools in high-poverty areas to offer nutritious meals through the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs to all students at no charge.
The tool, called “community eligibility” was established in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, and it has other benefits besides giving more students free lunch and breakfast. It significantly reduces the paperwork traditionally necessary for schools to provide free lunch and breakfast. No longer will each school have to determine whether or not every single student lives in a household with an income low enough to qualify them for a free lunch.
Schools will now be able to use information they already have access to, like how many students in their school are receiving SNAP (Food Stamps) or TANF Cash Assistance, to demonstrate that their student population is largely made up of kids living in households with low incomes and that they deserve free lunch and breakfast to help them through the day.
The result is more time and money that staff can devote to other important educational functions.
In order to smoothly implement this new feature the Arizona Department of Education, Children’s Action Alliance, the Association of Arizona Food Banks and other community groups are working together to help schools and school districts prepare for its launch at the start of the 2014-2015 school year.
If you’d like to learn more about Community Eligibility and how it works click here and read the report Community Eligibility and Making High-Poverty Schools Hunger Free, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) or visit the Arizona Department of Education site and see how it’s being implemented in Arizona.