Seven schools in the Wenatchee School District will provide free meals to all students regardless of family or household income starting this fall. The District is participating in the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program called Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The CEP allows schools located in low‐income areas to provide free breakfast and lunch to all students.
Over 3,300 students attending the following schools can take advantage of free nutritious meals starting this fall.
- Columbia Elementary
- Lewis & Clark Elementary
- Abraham Lincoln Elementary
- Mission View Elementary
- Orchard Middle School
- Pioneer Middle School
- Westside High School
Benefits of the CEP Program:
- Students: Access to free nutritious meals for all students, no stigma, and less time spent in cashier lines and more time to eat nutritious meals
- Parents: No household application means less paperwork and no worries about lunch accounts
- School staff: Streamlined meal service operation and more time for students to consume their food
- Administrators: Reduced paperwork and administrative costs, no need to track unpaid meal charges, improved program integrity, and more nourished students ready to learn and grow
The District’s free and reduced lunch rate is 54% but in some schools it is a high as 85%. WSD nutrition services was able to qualify seven out of fifteen schools with high rates of eligible students for CEP by combining schools into groups to maximize the number of students who would benefit.
“It’s our job to get our kids nourished so they can be ready to absorb all the awesome teaching going on in our schools, said Wenatchee School District Nurtrition Services Director Christ Lutgen. “I see this as just the first step in moving toward, one day qualifying all of our schools so we feed every kid in our district for free.”
The meals students receive under the CEP program will not be reduced in quality either. “We have hot, fresh meals that we make from scratch. We don't cook out of boxes and we have one of the largest farm-to-school programs in the state,” said Lutgen. The District’s nutrition services staff serves up 15 different fruits and vegetables every day and take pride in serving the highest quality food to nourish Wenatchee students.
At the start of school all parents at participating schools will be asked to complete a short Family Income Survey. Information collected on the survey will help the District complete program reporting requirements.