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District: Free meals for all students beginning Nov. 1

All students in the Greenville school district will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch beginning Nov. 1. Courtesy of Greenville Central School District

GREENVILLE — The Greenville Central School District announced that beginning Wednesday, Nov. 1, free meals will be provided to all students.

What does this mean?
All students enrolled at Greenville Central School District (UPK through grade 12) can receive one free breakfast and one free lunch at school beginning Nov. 1. Families who do not currently receive free or reduced lunches must continue to pay for meals through Tuesday, Oct. 31.

How do I sign my child up for free meals?
No sign-up is required. If your child would like a free breakfast or lunch, simply have them visit the cafeteria line, and their meals will be at no cost to your household. Students will still be required to put in their PINs in the cafeteria line. 

How is this possible? 
After a lengthy application process, the district was approved to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) after the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) expanded access by schools to the federal CEP of the National School Lunch Program.

“The Community Eligibility Provision is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas,” according to the USDA website. “CEP allows the nation’s highest-poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications. Instead, schools that adopt CEP are reimbursed using a formula based on the percentage of students categorically eligible for free meals based on their participation in other specific means-tested programs, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).” Learn more here. 

If I owe money on my child’s meal account, do I still need to pay it? 
Yes, unpaid meal debt should be paid as soon as possible. Beginning Nov. 1, families will no longer incur debt. Students who incur charges for school meals prior to Nov. 1 will still owe the district for charged meals. Unpaid balances are not cleared by the CEP free meals program, so families are still responsible for paying any debt incurred. 

What is included in the free meals? 
Breakfast includes 100% juice, fruit, milk, and one breakfast menu item. Lunch includes the daily lunch option, or one of the secondary options available daily. At the middle school/high school, the salad bar is also available for free at lunch. Students are entitled to one free breakfast (including milk, vegetable/fruit, and grains/bread) and one free lunch (including milk, vegetables, fruits, grains/bread, and meat/meat alternate). If a student would like an additional meal or portion of a meal, they will be charged the regular price using cash or money on their account.

What is NOT included in free meals? 
A la carte choices, listed on each school lunch menu, are not included as part of the free meals. These are items like chips, granola bars, special beverages, extra milk, second helpings of food, etc. Students can pay for these items with money on their lunch accounts or with cash.  

Are my taxes increasing now that everyone can receive free meals?
No, school taxes are not impacted by this change. The meals are reimbursed on both a state and federal level. The funding for free meals does not come out of school taxes. 

What if I still have money in my LINQ account? 
Students can use the money on their account to purchase a la carte items and second helpings of meals if they choose. 

Do I still need to fill out a meal application every year? 
If you usually qualify for free meals, the district encourages you to still fill out the application annually. This form provides additional benefits for qualifying students, including waiving student fees on things like AP exams. 

I have questions about this – who do I contact? 
Sara Statham, administrative assistant to the assistant superintendent for business or 518-966-5070 x511.

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