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Free For All: At 10 Schools, Students Eat for Free

Five more schools are providing free meals this year

No such thing as a free lunch? There is for students at some 4J schools.

Students need a healthy breakfast and lunch to be ready to learn. Eugene School District 4J has introduced changes to the student meal program this year, and many students are giving it a try and liking what they find. The school meal program is now managed in-house with improved menu options, fewer highly-processed foods and heat-and-serve meals, and more fresh, local and scratch-cooked items.

Thanks to a federal program and district support, at several 4J schools those high-quality locally provided meals are now available free to all students every school day. At all other 4J schools, school meals are priced affordably, and many students may apply and qualify for free or reduced-price meals.

The free-for-all meal program is new this year at five school sites: Holt Elementary School, Kelly Middle School, Fox Hollow Campus, Eugene Online Academy, and the ECCO alternative high school program.

These schools have qualified to participate in the USDA’s Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which gives eligible schools the option to offer free school meals to all students, with district support. The schools are eligible because they have enough students who meet the program’s criteria.

Five other schools—Chávez Elementary, Howard Elementary, McCornack Elementary, River Road/El Camino del Río Elementary, and Arts & Technology Academy—have provided free school breakfast and lunch to all students since 2016 and will need to be reassessed and potentially requalified for the CEP program after this school year.

Students at these ten schools are invited to eat school breakfast and lunch at no charge every school day. Their families do not have to pay for meals or submit an application. This offers all students a nutritious breakfast and lunch at no cost, cuts down on paperwork for families and schools, increases efficiencies for the district, and simplifies the lunch line for students.

Separate from this program, free breakfast is provided to all students at all 4J elementary schools. For all other meals, families pay per meal or apply and qualify for free school meals individually.

Questions?
Local: 4J Nutrition Services, 541-790-7656, nutrition@4j.lane.edu
Federal program: www.fns.usda.gov/school-meals/community-eligibility-provision

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