Students in Proviso Township High Schools District 209 will be able to get breakfast and lunch provided to them at no charge starting with the new school year, regardless of whether they qualified for free or reduced-price lunch in the past.
District 209 will be implementing a new option available to schools participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs called the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for the 2015-2016 school year. Schools that participate in the CEP are able to provide healthy breakfasts and lunches each day at no charge for all students enrolled in that CEP school during the 2015-2016 school year. As a result, students and their families at Proviso East High School, Proviso West High School, and Proviso Mathematics and Science Academy will not need to submit lunch applications.
A la carte items are also available and must be purchased separately, with all items being within the guidelines as established by the National School Lunch Program.
The new option comes after approval of an application for the CEP that the District 209 Board of Education approved submitting at its June meeting. The application for the CEP eliminates the need for students to apply for free or reduced-price lunch status if they were eligible earlier. To be eligible, a school must have a minimum of 40 percent of its students come from low-income families. According to the most recent Illinois Report Card for the 2013-14 school year, 55.4 percent of District 209’s students came from low-income families.
Mr. Todd Drafall, the chief financial officer for the District, said having the CEP would save the District money by eliminating the paperwork that is required to process the free and reduced-price lunch applications from families. In addition, the CEP will not cost the District any additional money, as the costs will be covered through federal reimbursements and cash sales, he said. Plus, since the reimbursement rate is at a higher rate than the current program, efforts are being made with the vendor, Aramark, to increase the quality of the program by including more fresh fruit and vegetables.
Dr. Nettie Collins-Hart, superintendent for District 209, said that the new option will help all students in the long run.
"We are very excited about the flexibility this will afford the district, the savings of time and money in not collecting forms from parents, and of course the increased ability to provide every student that comes to school a breakfast and lunch," she said. "I think there’s an important link between good health and nutrition and education. If a student is not hungry, they are able to concentrate at a higher level on academics which will result in more student achievement."