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City schools postpone free meals

Posted on Thursday, July 17, 2014 at 5:28 am

The Fayetteville City School System is adopting a “wait and see” approach to a program that would provide free meals to all students in the school system.

Last month, system leaders discussed the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), part of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. CEP is a universal meal plan under the National School Lunch Program that permits eligible school systems to provide meals to all students at no charge. School systems who have 40 percent Direct Certification (DC) qualify for the program. Students are directly certified because they live in households that participate in programs such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).

Fayetteville City Schools has a current DC rate of 44.65 percent, which qualifies for the program.

Since Fayetteville City qualifies, system leaders had said last month that they would research the program further prior to the June 30deadline and return to the school board with a recommendation.

During last week’s school board meeting, Dr. Janine Wilson, director of schools, recommended that the system postpone participation in the program and consult other school districts as the school year progresses to see how the program works for those systems. She cited concerns over possible delays of two to three months before the school system could be reimbursed for meals.

“I think we should wait and see how other systems fare,” Wilson said, in making the recommendation to postpone participation.

In an effort to handle the increasing cost of serving more fresh fruits and vegetables to meet new federal guidelines, the system will increase breakfast and lunch prices by 25 cents in the coming school year.

Breakfast prices for all three schools – Ralph Askins, Fayetteville Middle and Fayetteville High – will be $1.25. Lunches at Askins and FMS will be $2.50. Lunch at the high school will be $2.75.

System officials had said earlier this summer that an increase would be necessary if the district didn’t participate in the CEP program.