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More students to receive free lunches

Students at Cumberland County Elementary School (CCES) will receive free lunches this school year without having to fill out any application to qualify for free or reduced lunches due to the federally-mandated Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

The school’s qualification for the program comes after Prince Edward County Elementary School (PECES) recently qualified for the program.

According to Cumberland County Public Schools (CCPS) Food Coordinator Bill Brandt, schools can qualify for the program if a “combination of schools or a school district has a minimum percentage of what’s called ‘identified students.’”

“An identified student is a student that receives some sort of public assistance, we’ll say (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program), that’s food stamps, that’s considered an identified student,” Brandt said.

He said this year is the first year where students who live in a household that receives Medicaid are classified as identified students.

“In order to qualify for the (CEP), you have to have a minimum of 40 percent of identified students, whether it’s in the school, a combination or in the district,” Brandt said. “Now, the reimbursement that we receive at the school is based upon that percentage.”

He said the higher percentage a school has, the higher the reimbursement rate the school receives for each meal.

“I believe I did the elementary school and I think I was at 70 some percent … but that translates into where all the lunches (are) 83 percent, I will receive the full reimbursement rate for,” Brandt said. “The 17 percent of those I only receive what’s called ‘the full priced rate,’ which is like 38 cents.”

He said next year when he revisits the CEP he’ll look at Cumberland County Middle School to see if the numbers qualify for the program.