NEWPORT NEWS — The school district here will now offer free meals to all students starting this fall.
“It’s always been a priority that students have meal services,” said Michelle Price, spokeswoman for Newport News Public Schools. “Many families may run out of time in the morning to fix a nutritious meal [for their children].”
Price said all students in grades pre-K through 12th will be eligible for free meals such as breakfast and lunch, regardless of his or her families’ socioeconomic status.
This isn’t the first time the school district has offered free meals to students. In the past, NNPS has offered free breakfast to all students and in recent years, free or reduced lunch to students who qualify through the school district’s partnership with the Community Eligibility Provision program.
The CEP, which falls under the U.S. Department of Agriculture, allows schools and local educational agencies located in low-income areas to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students and eliminates the burden of collecting household applications to determine eligibility for school meal programs, according to the program’s frequently asked questions page.
In the 2018-2019 school year, 12,799 Newport News public school students or about 45 percent of the public school student population were eligible or received free or discounted lunch.
RELATED STORY: How many students receive free lunch in Hampton Roads?
“It’s actually a separate fund,” Price said, adding the funds do not come through the school district or the state government.”
In addition, the school district will provide all students who attend after-school activities a free afternoon snack or meal, Price added.
While the district will provide the same meals to students free of charge, the division will be eligible for reimbursement through the CEP program.