Updated School Food Programs Help Texas Kids Eat Free

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With summer break underway, Texas school administrators and nutrition directors must begin planning for the 2018 – 2019 school year and strategizing about the best ways to serve their students. One of the most important ways to help students learn and live to their fullest potential are to ensure that they’re eating regular, healthy meals at school.

For many students, the meals served afterschool may be the only opportunity to eat until the next day at school breakfast. That’s why the Afterschool Meal Program, also known as Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) At-Risk Afterschool, is so important. It allows for schools that participate in afterschool enrichment programs to serve full, nutritious meals to all students.

The greatest benefit of the program is that more kids are being fed nutritious, full dinners when they otherwise may not be. Additionally, CACFP benefits districts and schools by being easy, flexible, and cost-effective. It also provides more working opportunities for food service employees, increases participation in afterschool enrichment programs, and garners a much high reimbursement rate than serving snacks.

The Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP, is another school meal program that began in 2014 and presents schools with the opportunity to provide a greater number of students with free breakfast and free lunch without the hassle of collecting school meal applications.

CEP offers better reimbursement rates for schools. Read more about the formulas used to calculate reimbursement rates here.

School have until June 30, 2018 to sign up for CEP.

Several benefits have been recognized when schools have implemented CEP, including more children eating, less paperwork, improved claiming rates, increased revenue, and alignment with Texas’s breakfast mandate. One of the greatest advantages of CEP is that it eliminates the need for “courtesy meals” which are given to students with a negative account balance. These meals can be stigmatizing for students and are often smaller and less nutritious than items on the menu. CEP also makes it easier for schools to implement creative breakfast delivery models, like Breakfast in the Classroom and Grab-And-Go Breakfast. These unique delivery models help school breakfast reach more students who may otherwise go hungry.

To learn more about the Afterschool Meal Program and the Community Eligibility Provision, click here and here.

Image credit: Flickr, Department of Agriculture, CC license 2.0

Rachel joined the center in 2012 with a focus on food and nutrition programs as well as obesity. Before joining the center, she worked for the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC) where she was in charge of research and data analysis and authored reports such as the School Breakfast Scorecard, Hunger Doesn’t Take a Vacation, and State of the States. Cooper also worked for the Children’s Defense Fund (CDF), in their New York office, where she focused on helping families gain access to programs that provide work supports, such as tax credits, Medicaid, SCHIP, and food stamps. Cooper received her Masters in Human Development and Social Policy from Northwestern University.

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