Superintendent's Corner: Applying for School Lunch Program Has Benefits Beyond Meals

By Brian Wharton
Posted 7/5/22

Free and reduced-price meals have long been available to students who qualify based on family income levels.

During the COVID-19 outbreak and through the end of the 2021-22 school year, school …

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Superintendent's Corner: Applying for School Lunch Program Has Benefits Beyond Meals

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Free and reduced-price meals have long been available to students who qualify based on family income levels.

During the COVID-19 outbreak and through the end of the 2021-22 school year, school meals were free to any student. That practice will change at the start of the 2022-23 school year in September. Some students will be charged to eat breakfast and lunch at school next year.

However, the programs that provide meals to students have changed significantly. We will not return to our pre-COVID “normal.”

Instead, schools across the state will enact what is known as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which will allow more students to receive free meals in our district.

Any school or group of schools within a district are required to participate in CEP if the threshold of qualifying students reaches 40%. In those qualifying schools, all students will then receive free meals.

When school starts in September, five of our schools, Fort Stevens, McKenna, Mill Pond, Prairie and Yelm Extension School will qualify for CEP. In the remaining schools, the students who qualify for free or reduced-priced meals will receive them, but the rest of the school population will have to pay for breakfast and lunch.

The main reason that some schools in the district do not qualify for CEP is that not all families who could qualify have filled out the application for free meals. It is our goal to inform parents of this opportunity and work to assist families in the application process. We believe that if all families who would be eligible filled out the application, our entire district could qualify for CEP.



It would be truly exciting to have all our families eat school meals for free.

There are also significant benefits for families if they complete the paperwork for free meals.

Beyond school meals, students who qualify also become eligible for the College Bound Scholarship Program. Additionally, qualifying students can also earn College in the High School tuition support, and also become eligible for state tuition assistance programs.

All application materials are available at schools, in registration packets, and on the district and school websites. We encourage all families to view these materials and apply if they feel they might qualify.

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Brian Wharton is the superintendent for Yelm Community Schools.

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