COLUMBUS, Ga. — Students at more than three dozen Muscogee County schools will get free breakfast and lunch this school year. This includes 12 new schools for the 2016-2017 year. They all fall under a special federal provision. They’re designated as Community Eligibility Provision schools, or CEP. With just five days before the start of classes in Muscogee County, cafeterias around Muscogee County are preparing to serve 32,000 students and thousands of faculty and staff.
For many kids in the county, the food comes at no cost to them. Susan Schlader is the Director of Nutrition for the Muscogee County School District. She says students who attend CEP schools won’t have to fill out free and reduced applications. The federal government bears the costs of the food served at these school. Students that qualify for SNAP and TANF benefits, as well as homeless and foster kids, all factor into whether a school falls under CEP status.
“If the percentage comes out to 65% in a school, the entire school can qualify,” Schlader told News 3.
38 Muscogee County schools are eligible.
“That’s insane! That’s absolutely insane!” parent Heather Delgado exclaimed.
Delgado opens up about what free breakfasts and lunches mean not just for her sixth grader, but for hundreds of students at the newly eligible schools.
“I think it’s very helpful for a lot of parents that really work hard to make ends meet in this economy,” Delgado said. “It’s really hard to make ends meet right now whether you have a great job or just a mediocre job.”
Samuel Cheraisi immigrated from Kenya. He says the new changes will make a significant difference for his daughter, Eva.
“That’s really really something positive for kids, parents, families and the community,” Cheraisi said. “Most parents always struggle to get a balanced meal for their kids.”
Schlader tells News 3 the students’ stomachs will be happy, but so will teachers. She expects academic performance to soar, as students won’t necessarily have to worry where their next meal will come from. Meanwhile, Delgado is looking forward to saving some money this school year.
“On days that he wants to eat what everyone else is eating, that’s going to be great that I don’t have to be mindful of sending him to school with money,” Delgado said.
There are 15 non-CEP schools:List of CEP and non-CEP schools in Muscogee County
Meals at the non-CEP schools increased by $.15 for elementary, middle, and high schools as required by federal regulations. Lunch prices are now $2.25 for elementary students and $2.50 for middle schools and high school students. Breakfast prices remain the same. For more information on school meals, please click here.