Fayette County schools will participate in free meals program - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Fayette County schools will participate in free meals program

Fayetteville, WV. - Students in Fayette County Schools will have the opportunity to eat breakfast and lunch at school at no cost. The county is participating in a program called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), enacted as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, is an innovative universal free meal service option designed to make it easier for low-income children to receive meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The CEP is an alternative to collecting, approving and verifying household eligibility applications for free and reduced price eligible students in high poverty local education agencies.

Any school or combination of schools within a county that meets or exceeds 40 percent directly certified students (i.e. children who are certified for free meals without a paper application based on their status in foster care, Head Start, homeless, migrant, or living in households that receive SNAP/Food Stamps or TANF cash assistance) is eligible to participate in the CEP.

Benefits of the Community Eligibility Provision include:

* All students receive all meals at no charge;

* Paperwork for schools and families is dramatically reduced. Families no longer have to complete applications and schools no longer have to certify individual student eligibility, which also eliminates the verification process;

* School meal service is streamlined; meal claiming is simplified; and

* Universal (free) meals make it easier for schools to implement alternative meal services such as “grab and go” and breakfast in the classroom.

“We know that a child cannot focus on school work if they are hungry while in class,” said Chuck Heinlein, state superintendent of schools. “I applaud Fayette County Schools for deciding to participate in the CEP. It is a true benefit to our students and their families.”

All schools in Fayette County, except for the Fayette Institute of Technology, will participate in the CEP. In previous years elementary and middle schools were enrolled in the program, but this year all high schools were included. The program allows the school system to feed nearly 7,000 students each day.

County superintendent, Dr. Serena Starcher states that, “We would like to express tremendous gratitude to the citizens of Fayette County for supporting the school system's excess levy which provides additional funding for school meals over and above the CEP. Beginning this school year, all students in Fayette County are eligible to receive free breakfast and lunch. We expect this program to exist in Fayette County for the next five years.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture recently released data reporting high levels of food insecurity and hunger across the country. In West Virginia, nearly 14 percent of residents live in food insecure households and more than 88,500 children live below the poverty line.

If you would like additional information please contact David Seay the Child Nutrition Director for Fayette County.

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