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More students gain free access to school meals
USAgNet - 09/28/2023

The USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture) is making sure more students get free breakfast and lunch at school. This is happening because they're growing a program called the Community Eligibility Provision, or CEP for short.

So, this means around 3,000 more school districts, especially those who need it most, can now serve yummy and nutritious meals to all students at no cost. Tom Vilsack shared this news and mentioned it's a step towards the promise made by the administration for healthy school meals for everyone.

Before, a school or district needed at least 40% of students from households getting some form of federal assistance to join CEP. Now, only 25% is needed. This change is going to be super helpful across the country, especially in states supporting healthy meals with their funds.

Some states like California, Colorado, Maine, and a few others have already passed laws for free healthy meals in schools. Now, with this change, even more schools can join in and make sure no student is hungry, and everyone gets to enjoy delicious and healthy food.

CEP is a total win-win! It helps lower food costs for families, increases food security, gets rid of school meal debt, and even reduces the stigma around free meals. Plus, more students joining in means more funds for schools to offer even healthier options.

Stacy Dean from USDA shared that healthy meals are as essential as teachers and books for student success. This move means more kids can count on tasty meals at school and it’s a big step towards ensuring every student gets healthy meals at no cost.

The USDA is also giving extra financial support to schools and continuing projects to make sure eligible kids automatically get free or reduced-price meals.

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