Wendy Benton

DuBois Area School District Superintendent Wendy Benton is shown at Thursday’s board work session.

DuBOIS — DuBois Area School District Superintendent Wendy Benton provided an update on the success of the district’s free breakfast and lunch programs at Thursday’s board work session.

“I’m very pleased to report that we continue to exceed the expectations that were set over the summer,” said Benton.

A comparison of student participation from September 2018 until September 2019 showed breakfast participation was at 17 percent and we’re now at 44 percent. Lunch participation was at 59 percent last year and at 76 percent this year.

“We are just having a great experience with that,” said Benton.

Benton said that Dorothea Hackett, a high school English teacher, sent her an article regarding some studies on what has happened at other schools which have implemented free breakfast and lunch programs.

“They’re seeing gains in student achievement, and they’re linking this to the fact that we’re feeding kids, because it’s hard to learn when you’re hungry,” said Benton.

For the 2019-2020 school year, DASD is transitioning into the Community Eligibility Provision Program, which means all students at all district schools can receive free breakfast and lunch.

Prior to the start of the 2019-2020 school year, the board approved the district’s participation in the CEP Program through the 2022-2023 school year.

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CEP was created through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It provides an alternative to household applications, and free and reduced meal prices and eliminates the administrative burden of collecting household applications. It was created to improve access to free school meals in eligible high poverty schools and it offers all students free breakfast and lunch meals. There is no enrollment necessary and no paperwork to be filled out.

The requirements for participation include having a minimum percentage of identified students in the school year prior to implementing CEP. The formula takes the number of identified students divided by the total enrolled number of students. The district needed to have an Identified Student Percentage of greater than 40 percent; it is at 45.86 percent.

The other requirements are:

  • Serve free lunches and breakfast to all students.
  • Household applications for free and reduced priced meals are no longer collected.

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