AMBOY — Sometimes opportunities that are bestowed on one entity or institution can have a positive rippling effect throughout the community. The Amboy School District #272 was recently informed that they had met all of the requirements and will participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) for the 2023-2024 school year.
The CEP is part of the USDA federally funded National School Breakfast and Lunch program. All students enrolled at Central, Junior High, and High School will be able to participate in this free meal program without having to pay a fee or submit a household application.
“CEP is an alternative to collecting, approving, and verifying household income eligibility forms for meals in low income areas,” said Human Resources Director and Cafeteria Manager Amy Wittenauer. “To be eligible for CEP, a school or district must meet a minimum level of at least 40 percent of their students as identified students directly certified by the state as of April 1, 2023. The program can be for a four-year option.”
“Amy had to work really hard to get through a lot of paperwork,” said Amboy Superintendent Joshua Nichols. “The government wants all of the T’s crossed and I’s dotted and Amy was the one that secured this program for us.”
Studies have shown that children who are not hungry perform better in school. Nichols sees the whole picture in regards to why this program is so important now.
“A combination of inflation and wages has really put a strain on family households and as a result we are at between 42 and 48 percent of the poverty level,” he said. “I think that poverty is hidden easier in rural areas. It’s here and it makes it tough.
“This overwhelming benefit is a great opportunity for our school’s population while also taking a little pressure off of families. We feel good knowing that the kids will be guaranteed two good meals a day.”
According to Wittenauer, there isn’t any special preparations or requirements for the meals served under CEP except; “All meals must meet specific grain, sodium, caloric, and other nutritional requirements as set by the USDA,” she explained. “All meals must be reported monthly by the district for reimbursement. We want to encourage parents to have their children participate because this cannot succeed without everyone’s support.”
By providing school meals to all children at no charge, the district is hoping to create a better learning environment for all students.