frac facts offering free breakfast to all students

Transcript

1 Offering Free Breakfast to all Students ffering meals free to all children optimizes the impact O of switching to an alternative breakfast model. The traditional means-tested school breakfast (in which the meal is free or the child pays, depending on family income) creates a sense among children that the program is just “for poor kids.” This deters participation by children from all income groups, including low-income children who most need the school meal. This is especially problematic in middle and high school as awareness of the social context grows. By offering breakfast at no charge to all children — and children, of course, are free not to participate — free breakfast for all ends the stigma, boosts participation among hungry children, and eliminates the burden of collecting fees. Schools and districts can decide between several methods How do Schools “Break Even” When for offering breakfast at no charge, including: They Serve Free Breakfast? Community Eligibility Provision (CEP): Community n Schools with a high percentage of free and reduced-price eligibility is the newest federal option for serving free eligible children are generally able to make up any lost meals to all students and reimbursements are based revenue from paid and reduced-price meal fees due to on the percentage of students directly certified for free increased participation and resulting economies of scale. school meals. Schools using community eligibility must The “break-even” point for each school or district is serve breakfast and lunch free of charge to all students different, however, depending on labor and food costs, and no longer collect school meal applications. school size, and reimbursement amounts. Schools with 70 Provision 2: This longstanding federal option is n percent free and reduced-price eligible students generally designed to reduce paperwork and simplify the are able to break even, but some schools with eligibility logistics of operating school meals programs. Schools rates as low as 60 percent can operate a free breakfast in can use Provision 2 to serve free meals for breakfast, the classroom program within budget. lunch, or both, and collect applications once every four Alternatively, districts with fewer free and reduced-price years at most. Provision 2 schools serve meals at no eligible students can offer breakfast in the classroom by: charge, and use the significant administrative savings Charging for the paid and reduced-price breakfasts n to offset the cost of providing free meals to all students. they serve. No fees are collected from students, while Nonpricing: n Serving all students for free by allocating money from n schools continue to receive federal reimbursements for the general fund or another source to make up for not the meals served under the three-tiered (free, reduced- collecting fees. price, and paid) system. Schools must continue to collect school meal applications each year and count and claim meals as free, reduced-price, or paid. www.FRAC.org

2 1 Comparing Options for Serving Free Breakfast Community Eligibility Nonpricing Provision 2 Provision Fees Collected No No No from Students? Schools must keep track of the Schools must keep track of only the Schools must keep track of only the Counting number of breakfasts served by fee total number of meals served. total number of meals served. and Claiming category (free, reduced-price, or paid). Schools do not have to collect Schools must continue to collect Schools offering both free breakfast school meals applications. A school, and lunch only collect school meal school meal applications each year. district, or group of schools must applications in year one, the “base Applications have at least 40 percent “identified year,” and then do not have to collect students” (i.e., students certified for applications for at least the next 2 free meals without an application). three years. Schools are reimbursed by Schools are reimbursed based on the Schools continue to receive federal multiplying the percentage of ratio of free, reduced-price, and paid reimbursements for the breakfasts “identified students” by 1.6 to meals served in the “base year” when served under the three-tiered (free, Reimbursement determine the percentage of meals school meal applications are collected. reduced-price, and paid) system. Levels reimbursed at the free rate. The rest of the meals served are reimbursed at the paid rate. Any school may use Provision 2 upon Any school, district, or group of Schools may use nonpricing to serve schools with 40 percent or more approval by the administering state free breakfasts, but should check with “identified students” may use agency. their state agency prior to making the Eligibility community eligibility. change. Breakfasts are still counted and claimed free, reduced-price, and paid. Staff members no longer collect, Schools serving free breakfast and Staff no longer need to handle certify, or verify applications. Fewer lunch only have to collect school meal payments or track uncollected fees staff is needed in the cafeteria to applications, at most, once every four when students can’t afford to pay Administrative track who qualifies for free meals years. Less staff is needed in the for breakfast. Cost Savings or collect meal charges. Counting cafeteria to track who qualifies for and claiming are simplified because free meals or collect meal charges. staff no longer categorize each Counting and claiming are simplified meal served by fee category. because staff no longer categorize each meal served by fee category. Schools must have at least 40 Schools with 70 percent free and Schools with 70 percent free and Optimal percent “identified students” to reduced-price eligible students reduced-price eligible students can Percentage participate in community eligibility, can generally break even offering generally break even, but schools of Free and which equates to about 65 percent breakfast through Provision 2. with eligibility rates as low as 60 Reduced-Price free and reduced-price eligible Schools offering both breakfast and percent can operate a free breakfast Students students. lunch generally have slightly higher in the classroom program within free and reduced-price percentages. budget by taking advantage of economies of scale. 1 Nonpricing cannot be used to offer free lunch to all students unless the school district uses non-federal dollars to address the unpaid school lunch equity require- ments. Provision 2 can be used to offer free breakfast or lunch or both to all students. Community Eligibility requires schools to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students. 2 The majority of identified students are directly certified through data matching because their households receive SNAP, TANF, or FDPIR, and in some states and areas, Medicaid benefits. Identified students also include children who are certified for free meals without an application because they are homeless, migrant, enrolled in Head Start, or in foster care. www.FRAC.org

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