New program provides free breakfast and lunch to all Soledad students

SOLEDAD — Soledad Unified School District students will have a surprise waiting for them when they return to school in August, as all grade levels will receive lunch and breakfast for free.

“We are excited about offering that at every one of our schools for the 2018-2019 school year,” said Superintendent Timothy Vanoli.

The district meets the criteria for a Community Eligibility Provision that allows students to eat breakfast and lunch free of charge.

“There’s an application that districts like us have a high number of free and reduced, english learners, which qualifies us for either a Provision 2 Program or for a Community Eligibility Program,” said Chief Business Officer Cesar Vega. “The CEP is much better because it covers everyone.”

The program includes Rose Ferrero, Frank Ledesma, Jack Franscioni, Gabilan Elementary, San Vicente, Main Street Middle School, Soledad High School, Pinnacles Continuation School and the preschool.

The CEP means that everyone in the schools waits in the same line for food and are not separated based on family income. The program also means that students have more time to consume their food.

In order to meet the requirements of the program, Soledad Unified School District has to meet the eligibility requirements, serve free breakfasts and lunches to all students during the four-year cycle, count total breakfasts and lunches served to students daily, agree not to collect household applications for school meal programs and determine if non-federal funds are needed to cover the costs above the U.S. Department of Agriculture reimbursement.

CEP was green lighted by Congress as part of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010. It was available nationwide in 2014.

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