All Students Will Receive Free Meals

Students Receive Free Meals
Posted on 09/05/2018
students in lunch line

MOBOCES is now offering free breakfast and lunch to all students in full-day on-campus programs.

School Lunch Manager Hollie Ackerman and MOBOCES site manager Kathy Carney successfully secured a federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) grant this summer, allowing all students to eat school meals at no charge beginning on the first day of 2018-19 school year.

“We want to do whatever we can to support our students, and that includes making sure they have a hot meal,” Ackerman said.

Under CEP, districts no longer collect family income information for free and reduced-price meals, reducing paperwork for both families and school administrators. Instead, the cafeteria managers use public assistance databases to report their overall poverty level, which determines the rate at which the U.S. Department of Agriculture will reimburse the district for meals served. Beyond that reimbursement funding, the district makes up any shortfall in the cafeteria budget.

Previously, about 86 percent of the students in the on-campus Alternative and Special Education programs qualified for free and reduced-price meals. Under the CEP grant, MOBOCES has a 99 percent meal reimbursement rate, Ackerman said.

About 160 students in K-12 attend on-campus Alternative and Special Education programs this year. Last year, about half of students were eating a school lunch and about one-quarter were eating school breakfast. Ackerman said she hopes promoting the school’s new CEP status will increase those numbers and more students will take advantage of the no-cost breakfast and lunch options.

Last year, Ackerman helped Camden secure a CEP grant, making it the first district in the MOBOCES region to offer free meals to all students. Tena Omans is the Camden site manager.

Career and Technical Education programs are on campus but are half-day and those students eat back at their home school.