Volcano School PCS Serving up Delicious, Healthy and now Free Meals to all Students – no matter their family income.
Volcano School of Arts & Sciences PCS (VSAS) is excited to announce the enactment of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) also known as free meals for all students as part of its dedication to feeding every student a healthy and delicious breakfast and lunch every day. “Lunch is something our kids look forward to everyday” says Amalie Dorn the Kitchen Manager of VSAS PCS “It was breaking my heart to hear them tell me they couldn’t afford to eat at school.” Lunches were costing families up to $3.50 each meal & breakfast another $2.50.
Last school year, Amalie Dorn turned the school meals program around by adopting fresh “made from scratch” meals using fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains and non-processed real food. “No mystery meat coming out of my kitchen!” laughs Amalie. The kids go home & tell their parents they want things like our Green Chile Stew, they want dad to make the tuna like at school. When kids are excited like that to eat at school we don’t want to turn them away because they can’t afford it.
Amalie reports the first day (Friday, Aug. 29) after our announcement to students the participation numbers shot up by 20%. Beef Stew (made using Big Island Beef) is popular anyways but it was exciting & gratifying to see. “Students were hugging me, clapping & cheering they were so happy to eat!”
Community Eligibility Provision, a successful new federal option that allows schools in high-poverty areas to serve meals at no charge to help reduce hunger and streamline their school meal programs, is resulting in more children eating school meals in participating states, according to Community Eligibility: Making High-Poverty Schools Hunger Free (pdf) http://frac.org/pdf/community_eligibility_report_2013.pdf , a new report by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) and the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). Community Eligibility was established in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, and has been phased in a few states at a time over the past three school years. The first three states to adopt Community Eligibility – Illinois, Kentucky, and Michigan – have seen striking success since they started offering this option for the 2011-2012 school year. In those three states, average daily lunch participation rose by 13 percent, resulting in more than 23,000 additional children eating lunch, and average daily breakfast participation has increased by 25 percent in schools that participated for two years, resulting in more than 29,000 additional children eating breakfast.
Overall, school meal participation is far higher in schools that offer Community Eligibility. “Community Eligibility is an exciting new opportunity for schools and states to create hunger-free environments for learning, and it is working. Higher participation in school meals means children can concentrate on their lessons and not on their empty bellies,” said Madeleine Levin, Senior Policy Analyst at the Food Research and Action Center (FRAC). “Particularly noteworthy is Community Eligibility’s ability to increase the number of children eating breakfast, an underutilized program that many schools are seeking to expand.”
Community Eligibility leads to more children participating in school meals programs, and also reaps benefits for high-poverty schools. With less paperwork to complete, schools can operate more efficient school meal programs. It also frees up resources to invest in improving meal quality and increases staff time available for other educational priorities. “The success of Community Eligibility in helping feed children in need is a model for others to follow,” stated Zoë Neuberger, Senior Policy Analyst at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. “High-poverty schools around the country will soon be able to use Community Eligibility to make sure that all children have access to nutritious food to help them learn and thrive.” The 2014-2015 school year will mark the first year that eligible schools in every state can participate in Community Eligibility.