Hundreds of schools in East Texas approved for federal grant that provides free meals for students

Published: Aug. 7, 2023 at 8:19 AM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV/KTRE) - School is starting today for many East Texas families and this year a lot of parents have one less thing on their minds when they send their kids to school.

According to the USDA, the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program allows qualifying schools in high low-income areas to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students, eliminating the process to collect household applications to determine eligibility.

Since it’s a federal grant given to schools it helps cover meals in the upcoming school year, which will help feed thousands of students in nearly 300 schools across East Texas. For example, for the first time this year, Longview ISD will provide free meals to all of their students, K through 12.

Longview’s ISD director of Child nutrition, Phyllis Dozier says this will have a broad impact on their school since they have nearly 90 percent of students who already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches.

“They don’t have to fill out an application, they don’t have to put money in an account.. there’s not a verification process during the year. And so uh it makes it much easier for parents to not have to worry about those things,” said Dozier.

This is the second year, the district is offering free meals they still have two more years.

“Main focus is the students, and there’s a lot of students that the only meals they get are from school,” said Dozier.

“Also, will cause discipline issues because when they are hungry and they’re little … they’re going to try to do something to take their mind off being hungry. So they’re not listening to the teacher and they’re poking whoever is sitting next to them.”

However, Longview is not the only district that is benefitting from this program more than 200 schools across 80 districts in East Texas have also been approved to operate CEP.

For schools that are not under the grant, they charge lunch meals based on the eligibility determined on the lunch application.

To see that list you can click here.