All Page Unified School District students in grades K – 8 will be eligible to receive free breakfast and lunch for the 2017–18 school year.
The district made the announcement to parents earlier this month, confirming any student from Desert View Elementary, Lake View Primary and Page Middle School qualifies for the two free meals, regardless of household income.
PUSD Business Manager Kevin Dickerson called the shift “a win-win across the board for students,” saying, “I’m very excited to see this implemented this school year. A kid can’t learn if he’s hungry, plain and simple.”
Funding for the free lunches comes in the form of two federal grants provided through the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service.
More specifically, the Community Eligibility Provision will help fund the lunches. A part of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, the CEP provides school districts in low-income areas a broader approach to providing free and reduced meals for students.
According to a USDA website, “schools that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students participating in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families.”
Dickerson said the district was unable to secure similar funding for the high school due to how calculations are made for the percentage of qualifying students at each school, but noted administrators are aiming to be able to make the same offer to high school students as soon as possible.
“If we can find a way even without that grant, we want to provide it district wide, but we don’t have the cash today. We’re going to be looking at the efficiency of the programs this year and see how they turn out and use that to make decisions looking ahead,” Dickerson commented.
Qualifying Page High School students can still receive a free or reduced lunch after applying.
Breakfasts under the new provisions at the three schools will generally be delivered to classrooms each morning.
If a student opts to take the breakfast, he or she will be required to take the whole package.
A typical breakfast will include a grain, such as a muffin, milk and fresh fruit such as a banana or apple.
Lunches will be provided as usual at the school cafeterias.