Free Meal Program

Free Meal Program
Free Meal Program

Meal Program Grant Provides FREE Breakfast & Lunch for ALL Kokomo Schools Preschool through 8th-grade students 

          Kokomo School Corporation recently was awarded a grant to provide breakfast and lunch FREE to all preschool through 8th-grade students at the seven elementary schools and three middle schools for the next four years.

          The Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) Meal Program, authorized by Congress as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, allows school corporations to provide free meals to all students at qualified schools.

          Kokomo Schools Director of Business Michelle Cronk noted: “Kokomo School Corporation officials are extremely pleased to be offering the Community Eligibility Provision program for our elementary and middle school students. Offering free, nutritious meals to ALL elementary and middle school students is beneficial for both the school corporation and our families. We believe that this program will no doubt improve our students’ educational experiences.”    

          Kokomo Schools Food Service Director Jack Lazar added: “The Community Eligibility Provision is a great opportunity, which allows district officials to offer all students in preschool through 8th grade nutritious meals for both breakfast and lunch on a daily basis. The staff has been pleased to see both breakfast and lunch participation increase, and we hope this trend continues throughout this school year.”

          Stacey and Tera Pollard said the program already has saved their family time and money.

          “Our kids had taken their own lunches every day, and rarely ate at school,” Stacey explained. “Each evening, my wife would help the kids pack their lunches for the following day. Now, with free breakfast and lunch at school, I have noticed our nights are less chaotic.”

          Stacey and Tera, who have two children in Kokomo Schools, estimate they save $200 a month in groceries because of this program. As an added bonus, Stacey noted, his children have enjoyed trying all the meal options at school. The children especially enjoy walking tacos, as well as the many healthy options – including fresh fruits and vegetables – served daily.

          “This program has been a huge benefit to our family, and we hope it remains available for many years,” Stacey added.

          Elizabeth Callane, who has six children, echoed Stacey’s sentiments.

          “I was excited to hear about this program in Kokomo Schools,” Elizabeth noted. “Historically our children have packed their lunches for fear of not liking an item on the lunch menu. Now, our children are more willing to try school lunches, especially since they know it is not going to cost our family money. We have noticed our children are more open to trying new foods at home since this program began. Their food repertoire has grown!”

          Benjamin Booker, whose son attends Wallace Elementary School of Integrated Arts, was happy to hear about the Community Eligibility Provision Meal Program.

          “I believe offering free breakfast and lunch every school day is a blessing to all students,” Benjamin explained. “My student now has a choice to either bring his lunch or eat at school every day. Knowing that the meal is free allows my family to save a little money for other needs. I also love that this program puts all students on equal grounds.”

          Kokomo Schools Director of Communications Dave Barnes explained that this meal program streamlines meal service operations, while eliminating the need to track unpaid meal charges at the elementary schools and middle schools.

          “Parents no longer have to worry about their elementary and middle school students exceeding charge limits because this program eliminates student charges at these grade levels,” Mr. Barnes explained. “Elementary and middle school students still are able to purchase second meals and/or à la carte items, but with cash or prepaid funds only.”

          School corporations that adopt the CEP meal program are reimbursed through the Indiana Department of Education Office of School and Community Nutrition. Now that the meal program is in place, Kokomo Schools is able to serve free breakfasts and free lunches to all elementary and middle school students for a 4-year period.

          Kokomo School Corporation Director of Operations Mike Wade noted that becoming a part of the CEP meal program aligns with the district’s vision.

          “Providing programs, such as this one, to help our students and families is a primary community objective of our School Board and our administration,” Mr. Wade stated. “This is an investment in our students and families.”

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