The district is now among the first school systems in Wisconsin participating in the Community Eligibility Program (CEP), which means that all students at 156 MPS elementary, middle and high schools will be able to receive a healthy breakfast and lunch at no charge, regardless of family income.
MPS is able to participate in the U.S. Department of Agriculture program, which is federally funded, because of its high percentage of students who come from low-income households. Last year, 83% of MPS students were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, which is close to double the state average in Wisconsin. This school year marks the first year Wisconsin schools are eligible to participate in CEP.
Participating in the program will increase the efficiency of the district’s food service operations.
“Having every student come to school well nourished and ready to learn is absolutely critical to students’ well-being – and it’s critical to our work to improve student outcomes,” MPS Acting Superintendent Dr. Darienne Driver said. “Children who are hungry can’t concentrate on learning. They’re focused on their hunger. We’re proud to help lead the effort to ensure that doesn’t happen.”
The change means MPS parents will not have to submit a meal benefits application. However, families will be asked to complete a simple, alternate survey form for the district which will be used to determine eligibility for fee waivers and other educational benefits.