WICHITA, Kansas — The Wichita school district is considering a program that would offer free breakfast and lunch for all students at six schools next year.
The Community Eligibility and Provision program gives schools in high-poverty areas the option of serving the meals to all students, regardless of their families' economic situation.
David Paul, director of nutrition services for the district, says the program might be used next year at Hamilton Middle School and at Gardiner, Harry Street, Park, Stanley and Washington elementary schools. At Hamilton, about 96 percent of students qualify for free or reduced-price meals.
Districts qualify for the program if at least one school has 40 percent or more students who qualify for free meals without applying. Fifty-nine schools in Wichita are eligible to apply for the program, but reimbursement rates would differ depending on poverty rates. According to Paul, 15 schools would qualify for full reimbursement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which oversees the program.
The program is "a proven tool to make sure children in high-poverty schools are fueled up and ready to learn," Paul said.
The Wichita Eagle reports (http://bit.ly/1PMZDTj ) the program was available to Kansas schools for the first time this year. A few districts, including Topeka and Kansas City, Kansas, are participating. Wichita officials opted not to apply, blaming a tight deadline and logistical concerns for their voluntary exclusion.
Supporters say the program helps ensure that more low-income students have access to healthy meals during the day.
Information from: The Wichita (Kan.) Eagle, http://www.kansas.com
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