Free Breakfast & Lunch for All Students

Free Breakfast & Lunch for All Students

Amid a lot of pandemic-related uncertainty in local education, one thing is guaranteed: No family with children attending school in the district will pay for cafeteria meals for at least the next four years.

Silver Creek Central School District Superintendent Todd A. Crandall recently (Aug. 28, 2020) informed its families that all its students, regardless of household income level, are entitled to a healthy breakfast and lunch each day at no charge via the Community Eligibility Provision.

Free meals are provided via the cafeteria beginning the first day of the 2020-2021 academic year (Tuesday, Sept. 8, 2020). Silver Creek is among a handful of local districts that have the CEP designation including Brocton, Gowanda and Salamanca.

“This is a huge positive for our Black Knight families. No longer do they have to worry about having money to pay for food at school,” says district Business Administrator Lisa Rohloff, who applied for the CEP and notes it allows SCCS to serve all children breakfast and lunch at no charge for four successive school years, plus a qualifying grace year. “We expect our meal participation numbers to soar now that all meals are no-cost.”

The CEP eliminates SCCS’s most recent full-price lunch charges of $1.70 for elementary and $1.80 for middle and high school students. It also eliminates breakfast charges, which at full price was $1.60 for all students.

Additional meals or “a la carte” items such as extra milk, bottled water, chips, etc., will still be available at an additional cost, although not immediately at the beginning of the 2020-2021 academic year as the district implements new re-opening procedures. MySchoolBucks will still be used and is strongly recommended for putting additional funds on student accounts for these extras.

In addition to eliminating any perceived stigma surrounding qualifying for meals at free or reduced rates, one of the biggest benefits of the CEP designation is the potential hundreds to thousands of dollars families will save on meal costs for their students.

To put the savings into context, Rohloff notes that during the 2019-2020 academic year, if a middle or high school student ate both daily cafeteria meals for the traditional 180 days of school — and paid full price — it would cost them $612 annually. Daily breakfast and lunch for 180 days would cost an elementary student $594 annually. And if a family had one elementary and one middle or high school student, they paid $1,206 per year total for both children’s cafeteria meals.

Before the pandemic shutdown in March, during the 2019-2020 academic year, Silver Creek served 31,288 breakfasts of which 23,241 were free and 1,843 were reduced cost. It served 74,186 lunches, of which 42,633 were free and 5,209 were reduced cost. Post-shutdown, the district served 39,228 free breakfasts and 39,228 lunches to families learning remotely, from approximately mid-March 2020 to the end of June 2020. All of those meals were provided at no cost due to the global health crisis of COVID-19.

Rohloff notes that 52.35% of the district’s students qualify for Medicare, Medicaid or SNAP, which helped SCCS secure the CEP designation. SCCS will be reimbursed for 83.75% of the meals at the free rate of $2.24 for breakfast and $3.39 for lunch. The remaining 16.25% of meals will be reimbursed at the paid federal rate of $0.31 for breakfast and $0.39 for lunch.

But in order to continue to provide free meals, SCCS is counting on its families to help in gathering some crucial information. The district has mailed home forms related to CEP and needs all households to complete and return them by Friday, Sept. 25, 2020, to allow SCCS to continue to provide important data for State Aid-related purposes.

“Silver Creek is thrilled to be able to offer free meals to all our students,” says Rohloff. “Studies have shown that nourished students are happier and stronger and more engaged in their education when they eat a healthy breakfast and lunch. We are depending on our families to communicate with us so we can continue providing no-cost nutrition and improving our educational experience for all students."

experience for all students.”