District 6 Board approves free student meals for 2022-2023

Posted by KIM DESMOND on 8/9/2022

All students in Greeley-Evans School District 6, including students attending charter schools, can access free breakfast and lunch this school year as a result of the District 6 Board of Education’s unanimous vote on Monday, Aug. 8, to fund school meals for the 2022-2023 school year for all students who do not otherwise qualify.


In order to eat for free, parents must complete the Free and Reduced Meal Application, regardless of the family’s income level. The application is available online at https://www.d6schoolfood.org/school-meal-benefits


For more than two years, schools nationally have been providing free meals to all students, regardless of income status, as part of the COVID-19 response. However, federal funding for universal free meals ended at the conclusion of the 2021-2022 school year. The District 6 Board voted to allocate up to $2 million from reserves to pay for the universal meal program this school year. The remaining $10 million to fund the student meal program is covered by federal reimbursements through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 


The Board of Education voted to use money from the district’s reserves to extend free meals service for all students in anticipation that next year, the District will qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision, which will designate the district as a low-income area and allow free meals to again be provided under the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 


Districts qualify for Community Eligibility Provision when they reach 40 percent of their students qualifying as low income by utilizing Medicaid services and/or qualifying for state or federal food assistance, such as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Because the Medicaid qualification is just being added next year, it is anticipated District 6 will easily qualify for the federal Community Eligibility Provision next year, said District 6 Nutrition Services Director Danielle Bock.


Bock said under the COVID-19 free meal program, more students accessed school meals than ever before. For the first time, District 6 served over 3 million meals last year, realizing a 20 percent increase in students eating breakfast and a 40 percent increase in students eating lunch. 


“Food is a basic human right,” Bock said. “It is not a privilege.”


Board members voiced support for the one-year allocation, saying access to healthy food is essential to the district’s educational mission. 


“Nutritious food … is absolutely a necessity for all the work of learning and achievement,” said Board Director Natalie Mash. “They are intimately tied together.”


“I support this 100 percent,” said Board Director Rob Norwood, a former Northridge High School teacher. “I have seen kids go on break with anxiety about where their next meal is coming from.”


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