On Aug. 28, Richmond County Public Schools (RCPS) issued a statement from Food Service Director Tammy P. Coates on their Facebook page stating that all students attending schools within the district would be receiving free breakfast and lunch during the 2018-2019 school year.
Within two days, the post had nearly gone viral within the community.
RCPS will be able to provide these meals through a program offered by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) called Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). According to the USDA website, “CEP is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas.” Through CEP, the district will be reimbursed for the free meals served from the federal government.
To qualify for CEP, a school or school district must meet several requirements. A superintendent’s memo dated May 4, from Acting Superintendent of Public Instruction Steven M. Constantino listed on the requirements as, “A school, group of schools, or school division must have an identified student percentage (ISP) of at least 40 percent of the students enrolled as reported in the April 1, CEP Site Eligibility Report to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision.” Schools and/or districts must apply by June 30, a deadline that was met by Coates. In addition, calculations have to be analyzed to account for the fiscal impact of implementing CEP.
In Richmond County, the identified students referred to above are known as directly certified students, according to Assistant Superintendent Sarah Schmidt. These directly certified students – and their families – receive aid from the government, including but not limited to food stamps.
“Over 20 percent of our students are below the poverty threshold,” stated Schmidt in a phone interview just days after the district made the announcement. “We, as a division, have slightly less than 60 percent of students who qualified for free or reduced lunch.”
For the full article pick up a copy of this weeks Northern Neck News 9/5/18