The Kansas City, Kan., Public Schools will begin offering free breakfast and lunch to its 5,000 middle school students this school year through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program.
CEP is a program of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that allows schools with high poverty rates to provide free breakfast and lunch to students.
This is the second group of KCKPS students to receive free school meals. Last school year, KCKPS began providing free meals to its 13,000 elementary students through CEP.
This means that a total of 18,000 students will have the opportunity this year to receive free healthy meals during their school day. KCKPS receives reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) for its school meals program.
“It’s just absolutely a blessing for our community. It’s another group of students who have had barriers removed from them for being able to access healthy foods,” said Josh Mathiasmeier, director of nutritional services. “We know that good nutrition and learning go hand in hand so this is a win-win opportunity for our students, staff and families.”
CEP eliminates barriers to good nutrition at school, and can enhance participation in school meals programs.
Last year, thanks to the CEP offering, more students at the elementary level actually participated in the school breakfast and lunch program. Mathiasmeier said there was a seven percent increase in the number of students eating school breakfast, and a 10 percent increase in the number of students eating school lunch. He predicts the same for the middle school level, which would add up to an additional 800 meals per day.
However, all families are still required to complete the student meal application as in the past. This application is used to qualify students and their schools for many other federal and local programs. The application is available online at https://ola.kckps.org/. Copies of the application also are available at all middle and elementary schools or can be obtained from the Nutritional Services office located at 2112 N. 18th St.