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All Collinsville students eligible for free meals

Times-Tribune staff

Collinsville in the upcoming school year will offer all students free meals, following approval by the Illinois State Board of Education as a Community Eligibility Provision district. 

In a news release, the district said no sign-up or pre-registration is required, so families no longer have to complete free or reduced-price meal applications. All students regardless of family income can eat free, nutritious meals at school. 

Every elementary and Dorris Intermediate School student can eat breakfast and/or lunch provided at school and will not be charged for these meals. At the middle and high schools, where students are offered meal choices if the student takes a full meal, breakfast or lunch, there is no charge to the student. 

Anything less than a full meal, just taking a milk or just taking a cheeseburger for example, will result in a charge to the student, according to the release. The National School Lunch Program categorizes a full meal as: a fruit, grain and milk at breakfast; and a fruit, vegetable, grain, meat and milk at lunch. 

In addition, at Collinsville Middle School and Collinsville High School, a la carte items available for purchase in addition to a full meal, (extra milk, extra entree, separate items, etc.) are NOT eligible for CEP, so students will be charged for those extra items. Cafeteria staff will be able to assist students in navigating food selections.  

Adult and visitor meals are not included in CEP, so there continues to be a charge: Adult and Visitor Breakfast Price: $2 Adult and Visitor Lunch Price: $4

Any positive food service balance from last school year can remain on a student’s account and allow them to purchase a la carte food items. Re-loading money on the account can be done through Skyward Family Access. 

An outstanding food service balance from prior years will remain and should be paid immediately, the release states.  The district asks parents or students to log-in to Skyward and use the Food Service tab to see your current balance.  Questions can be directed to building principals. 

The district says from a student’s perspective, very little change will occur in our cafeterias.  Students will proceed through the line and scan their I.D. or enter their assigned PIN so we can track the meals being served. 

Research has proven that children who have healthy meals learn better.  School districts who participate in CEP see an increase in children who eat breakfast at school, which means students are more likely to start the day with a nutritious meal to sustain them until lunch.  

CEP benefits families who no longer have the financial burden of paying for school meals.  CEP also removes the social stigma associated with receiving free or reduced breakfast/lunch based on family income.  

From the district perspective, cafeteria lines move more efficiently and the administrative burden associated with tracking meal payment and balances is diminished, according to the release. 

Prior to CEP, student fees were waived based on whether a household met the standards to qualify for free or reduced lunch. This year, if your household or family does not qualify for direct certification via Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, you must complete the Student Fee Waiver Application and return it to your child(s) respective school office as soon as possible. 

Taking advantage of CEP eligibility is another way the district is working to support students and their families, the release states. If you have questions about the meal program or student fee waivers, please contact your child’s building principal.

 

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