We all know that when more children eat well, everyone benefits. That’s why we’re asking parents and school administrators to encourage all eligible school districts in Texas to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision. Starting in the 2014-15 school year, this provision allows schools where at least 40 percent of the students live in low-income households to provide free meals to all students. Families don’t have to fill out lengthy applications for free or reduced-price meals. Schools save time and money with less administrative work and better economies of scale.
You may have read horror stories across the nation of children shamed for not having enough money in their lunch accounts at school, or, even worse, having the lunch thrown away. Even without these extreme examples, free and reduced price lunch does not enjoy full participation in part because of stigma. That means that a child could be losing out on a healthy meal, or going hungry. One of the best ways to reduce the stigma of food assistance is by making meals for everyone and creating an environment where all students are treated and viewed equally in the cafeteria line.
The Healthy Hunger-Free Act of 2010 which dictates the types of food served at school, has shown to be challenging for both schools to implement successfully and for students to embrace menu changes. This report by the Government Accountability Office has shown a less participation in the school lunch, primarily by paying students, since the law was enacted.
“Officials from three states and four SFA (School Food Authorities)s we spoke with as part of our site visits believe the price increases likely contributed to declines in the number of students buying full-price lunches.
In addition, SFA officials in two districts we visited expressed concern that lunch price increases are particularly difficult for families who do not receive free or reduced-price lunches but have limited incomes, as the new prices may no longer be affordable.”
-GAO Report to Congressional Requesters on School Lunch, January 2014
A simplified program where every child receives free meals will make it easier for schools to focus their efforts on improving program compliance, reducing food waste, and improving school children’s diets and health.
Visit the Texas Department of Agriculture’s site to see the list of eligible and potentially eligible Texas schools and to view the eligibility list by district.
Schools have until
June 30 August 31 to indicate if they are going to participate. If your neighborhood school is eligible, we encourage you to contact your school district and let them know that you support their participation.