By Stefanie Jackson – Accomack County Public Schools employees announced this week that all students will receive free breakfast and lunch – regardless of their family income level – starting this school year.
Free meals for students are made possible by Accomack’s participation in the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) program, Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).
Parents no longer have to fill out applications for their kids to get free breakfast and lunch, because the entire Accomack school division qualifies through direct certification, meaning the number of families who receive social services benefits such as Medicaid and food stamps.
Schools can participate in the USDA program if at least 40% of students qualify individually for free breakfast and lunch.
The number of students in the division who qualify recently increased from 88% to 91% of enrollment, Accomack schools Finance Director Beth Onley said Aug. 20.
She noted that each student may get only one free breakfast and lunch per day, but second servings could be purchased separately.
School board member Camesha Handy asked if students could give their free lunches away to other students.
“I don’t think that they monitor that,” Onley said.
“It’s not being recorded,” school board member Ronnie Holden said.
At the elementary schools, breakfast will be served in the classrooms. At the middle schools, both hot and cold breakfasts will be served Grab and Go style, in brown paper bags. Students can eat in the cafeteria or carry their breakfast to homeroom to eat.
The high schools will not make the switch to Grab and Go breakfasts at this time.
In another matter, Karen Downing, of Virginia Organizing, commended the Accomack school board for addressing a disparity in the ratio of minority teachers to minority students.
This year, Accomack Schools hired 56 new Accomack teachers, and 14 of them, or 25%, are people of color, compared to three of 53 new hires last year.