State Strategies Manager
I joined thousands of school nutrition administrators from across the country in Boston this week for their annual conference to share information about how high-poverty school districts can eliminate applications and serve meals to all students at no charge under the new option known as community eligibility. Over and over, I heard from people who spend their days feeding children about how much it pains them to watch a hungry teenager avoid the cafeteria out of embarrassment or to have to collect lunch fees from struggling parents. And, encouragingly, I heard about many districts that are poised to implement community eligibility, including El Paso, Texas, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Sumter, South Carolina.
Community eligibility can help schools in many ways. For example, one Oregon school nutrition director who plans to adopt community eligibility, declared that she will not have to process 11,000 school meal applications this fall, enabling her to spend more time planning appealing, nutritious menus.
School districts have until August 31 to opt in to community eligibility for this coming school year. Here are ten reasons to adopt community eligibility: