Three States Expand Access to Free School Meals

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee have been selected by the US Department of Agriculture to participate in the initial year of an innovative universal free meal-service option that makes it easier for low-income children to receive meals in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs. The Community Eligibility Option will allow schools in high-poverty areas to eliminate applications and provide free breakfast and lunch to all students.

Under the option, schools use pre-existing data to determine the amount of reimbursement they can claim from the USDA. The determination is based primarily on the percentage of households in that community that are already participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

The Community Eligibility Option is one of the early reforms enacted as a result of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which was signed into law by President Obama in December 2010. The act requires the Community Eligibility Option to be phased in during three years. The USDA identified 10 states as being eligible to apply for consideration in the first year of the option. The USDA selected the three states based on information each state submitted.

“Community eligibility is a great way for schools to cut through burdensome red tape for themselves and low-income families so that children in high-poverty areas have access to the nutrition they need to learn and thrive,” Agriculture Under Secretary Kevin Concannon said in a press release. “Schools should benefit from reduced paperwork, parents will not have to fill out duplicative forms and children in need will get better access to healthy school meals.

More From FoodService Director

Ideas and Innovation
hybrid worker

Some of our employees can work four 10-hour days. It’s really helped with balance. We’ve also created a lot of hybrid positions, such as a personal services assistant and foodservice worker role. It allows workers to pick up more shifts and cover both positions.

Ideas and Innovation
cheeseburger

We set up an interactive collaboration with our dietetics department where students worked with our culinary team to test how recipes are imagined and produced. One of the recipes they came up with was a barbecue tempeh sandwich, which they believed was a great option for vegan students across campus. We added the sandwich to our On the Go program and then expanded it to our vegan station on campus due to its success.

Ideas and Innovation
salad bowl

We have reorganized our salad bars to not only include the traditional DIY salad ingredients, but also several daily entree salads. Our students requested 32-ounce heavy glass salad bowls that have been wildly popular. The big bowls allow students to load up on their favorite salads and customize with additional ingredients from around the servery. We have seen a significant surge in usage that cuts across all groups, including athletes.

Ideas and Innovation
bleu barn

While undergoing a large-scale expansion that changed a chunk of its layout and added a new building to campus, Bethany crafted its own cafe—a place where residents and guests of the Waupaca, Wis., senior living center could grab a casual bite throughout the day.

Originally dubbed The Barn because of the area’s affinity for farming, the rustic-themed fast casual took over a space earlier occupied by a great room with a small kitchen, and where resident assistants once served meals. (Now that area is squarely in the purview of foodservice and is staffed by members of the dining team...

FSD Resources