As it turns out, there is such a thing as a free lunch … and breakfast.
Beginning next fall, all students in the Roanoke Avenue and Phillips Avenue elementary schools will get a free lunch and a free breakfast at school on a daily basis, courtesy of the New York State Education Department program called “Community Eligibility Provision.”
“Our new food service director, Keith Graham, discovered this program,” Superintendent Nancy Carney said at Tuesday’s school board meeting. “Kids won’t have to fill out a free and reduced lunch form any more, since everybody will get it.”
Federal guidelines allow students whose families fall below certain incomes to qualify for free or reduced lunches and breakfasts at school.
Current rules only allow individual students whose families meet certain income criteria to be eligible for free meals — not the entire schools.
“Currently, it a percentage and you had to fill out a lot of paperwork for the families to prove they were eligible,” Ms. Carney said. “This cuts all that paperwork down and there’s no more going after people for not paying. It’s really terrific.”
Roanoke Avenue and Phillips Avenue were the only Riverhead district schools to qualify for the program, Ms. Carney said.