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Dover Post
  • Capital School District institutes free lunch program

  • The old saying goes that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but maybe there is in Capital schools. Through the Community Eligibility Provision, a policy enacted by the United States Department of Agriculture, schools in the Capital School District will be able to provide free breakfast and lunch for all students from pre-K through 12th grade.
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  • The old saying goes that there is no such thing as a free lunch, but maybe there is in Capital schools. Through the Community Eligibility Provision, a policy enacted by the United States Department of Agriculture, schools in the Capital School District will be able to provide free breakfast and lunch for all students from pre-K through 12th grade.
    This is a departure from the district’s current lunch program. The Capital School District currently provides universal breakfast, ensuring that every student has access to the most important meal of the day; however, students either receive lunch for free, can purchase lunch at a reduced price or pay full price for lunch, according to Dr. Michael Thomas, superintendent for the Capital School District.
    “Right now, we are under the National School Lunch Program,” Thomas said. “That means if you qualify based on income you can get free or reduced lunch. If you don’t qualify you have to pay full price.”
    According to James Trower, director of child nutrition for the district, 66 percent of the students attending Capital schools qualify for free or reduced lunch.
    The Community Eligibility Provision, which will go into effect in the Capital next year, is designed to prevent students from falling through the cracks, Trower said.
    “This is huge at the high school,” he said. “Generally if high school students don’t have any money and they don’t qualify for free or reduced lunch they don’t eat.”
    This is also a problem at the elementary school level, as well, Trower said.
    “There are kids at the elementary schools that come through and don’t have money and the child can’t get the lunch that they want and then you see a bunch of tears,” he said. “Sometimes they can’t recover from that.”
    Ensuring that students eat breakfast and lunch can be important from an academic standpoint, Trower said.
    “There are studies out there that show kids that eat breakfast and lunch will do better in the classroom as far as focusing, studying and retaining information,” he said.
    The Community Eligibility Provision will not directly cost local taxpayers any additional money, as the revenue comes from the federal government, Trower said. The federal funding works through reimbursement, meaning that for each child that gets a school lunch, the district receives a certain amount of federal funding.
    Under the new program the district will be reimbursed at two rates − one rate for students who would normally get a free lunch and one rate for students that would normally pay for lunch. Trower expects that 81 percent of the lunches the district doles out will be reimbursed at the free rate, with the remaining 19 percent being reimbursed at the paid rate.
    Page 2 of 2 - The rate at which the district will be reimbursed for those meals is set by the USDA each summer. The current reimbursement rate for a free lunch is $3.01 and is .36 cents for a paid lunch.
    The money that the school district receives form reimbursement is used for purchasing food and cooking equipment to funding training for food service providers, Trower said.
    “This is a very good program because it will give children who fall between the cracks an opportunity to come in and have a meal without having to worry about if they have money,” he said.

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