To be sure all students are well nourished to learn, Keene ISD recently announced that all students in the district will get free breakfast and lunch for the entire school year.
KISD Superintendent Ricky Stephens said the district is excited to provide this amenity for its students.
“I believe, in a school district with our socioeconomical breakdown — 84 percent has been on free or reduced lunch, — it is a huge deal to be able to provide our kids with breakfast and lunch every day,” he said. “Sometimes the only good meals they get that are hot are with us.”
Free meals for students are made available through the Community Eligibility Provision under the National School Lunch Program.
The NSLP is a federally-assisted meal program that provides low-cost or no-cost meals to children each school day. Children are “categorically eligible” for free meals through participation in certain Federal Assistance Programs such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or others based on their status as homeless, immigrant, runaway or foster child.
Since the program was established under the Richard B. National School Lunch Act, which was signed into law by President Harry Truman in 1946, millions of children have received free meals.
“We’re excited about it,” Stephens said. “It also takes away the stigma of being on free and reduced lunch. A lot of times when kids get to the high school level we see a reduction in applications because they are embarrassed to turn them in. Now, everybody is free and that takes that stigma away.”
Stephens said the district also outsourced its cafeteria services to Southwest Foodservice Excellence, which helped the district enroll in the National School Lunch Program.
“Our board was wanting better quality food,” he said.
Over 75 percent of meals provided by SFE are made from scratch, which focus on premium taste and visual appeal.
Monty Staggs, president and chef of SFE, said the company stands behind its promise to bring the best, widest variety of student-approved menus.
“We have so consistently been able to grow participation, because we are experts in delivering child nutrition with unparalleled taste appeal,” he said. “That’s a pretty unbeatable combination.”