El Dorado School District students in kindergarten through sixth grade will be offered free breakfast and lunch during the coming school year.
The board approved the move at its Monday meeting, with the change coming at little to no cost based on funding from the Community Eligibility Program (CEP) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The CEP is a “non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas,” according to the program’s website.
Prior to this move, breakfast cost 90 cents and lunch cost $2.
Superintendent Jim Tucker said the district has been applying for this program for a number of years, but hasn’t been eligible for it until this year.
In past years, parents have been able to apply for their child to receive free or reduced meals based on household income and size. The reduced breakfast cost 30 cents and reduced lunch cost 40 cents. However, under the new policy, all children will be eligible without submitting an application.
This year, only kindergarten through sixth grade students will be participating in the program, but Tucker said he plans to continue applying in the coming years to hopefully be able to extend the program to all grade levels.
Conversations are continuing about how to get the food to the students. During the meeting, the idea of having breakfast in the classroom was brought up, as well as having multiple locations around each campus for students to pick up lunch with the goal of having shorter lines.
The school board unanimously approved implementing the program after getting reassurance that the quality of the food would not be affected by this decision.
“I recommend we feed the kids,” said board member Todd Whatley.
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