USDA expands free meals for students in high-need areas
– The U.S. Department of Agriculture is expanding the availability of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), allowing an estimated 3,000 more school districts to serve free breakfast and lunch to all students in high-need areas.
– The CEP program was originally introduced in 2010 and aims to reduce hunger and increase access to healthy meals for students. It allows schools with a certain percentage of low-income students to offer free meals to all students, eliminating the need for individual income verification.
– The expansion of the CEP program comes as a response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, which has increased food insecurity for many families. By providing free meals to all students, regardless of income, this program helps ensure that all children have access to nutritious meals during these challenging times.
– The USDA estimates that this expansion will benefit approximately 9 million students, making it easier for them to focus on their education, rather than worrying about where their next meal will come from.
– In addition to expanding the CEP program, the USDA is also investing in other initiatives to support child nutrition. These include launching a pilot program to provide free meals to students in select schools during the upcoming school year and providing grants to support innovative strategies for improving access to healthy meals for children.
The expansion of the Community Eligibility Provision by the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a crucial step in addressing the issue of childhood hunger and food insecurity. By providing free meals to students in high-need areas, this program ensures that no child goes hungry and removes the stigma associated with receiving free meals based on income. This initiative will not only improve the well-being of millions of students but will also contribute to their academic success by allowing them to focus on their studies rather than their next meal. It is encouraging to see the USDA investing in innovative strategies to support child nutrition and create a healthier and more equitable future for all students.