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Troy City Schools serving free breakfast, lunch this year

All students in the Troy City Schools system can eat breakfast and lunch for free this year.

The school system is piloting a USDA program that allows districts to provide free meals to all students – regardless of financial need – during the upcoming school year.

“Normally the deadline for this program is earlier in the year,” said Joyce Curry, who oversees the district’s nutrition programs. “But in March the USDA issued a waiver allowing districts to push back the deadline to elect the Community Education Provision (CEP) program.”

The CEP is a non-pricing meal service options for schools and school districts in low-income areas.

Participating districts serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students, without collection household applications, which are normally required for free or reduced lunch eligibility.

Instead, the district will be reimbursed based the percentage of students participating in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), both of which are certified through the Department of Human Resources. The Pike County Schools already participate in the program.

“That window gave us the opportunity to reevaluate our enrollment and our percentage increased enough for us to pilot the program this year,” Curry said. “The pilot program covers costs for the first year, and we will have to decide in May 2021 whether to continue or not.”

Jonathan Cellon, president of the Board of Education, said the program will provide a much-needed service to students throughout the district.

“I think this is awesome,” he said. “I’m excited that we will be able to meet some of the nutritional needs and meal gaps for all these students because we know you can’t learn if you’re hungry.”

The program does not extend to ala carte options, adult meals or visitor meals.