W.O. Parmer to take part in pilot program

Published 2:51 pm Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Students at W.O. Parmer Elementary School won’t need lunch money next year.

Beginning in the fall, all students at the school can receive free breakfast and lunch as part of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs.

W.O. Parmer was selected to take part in a one-year pilot of the program, which allows schools that predominantly serve low-income children to offer free school meals to all students, regardless of their family’s income. The CEP uses information from other programs, including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and the Temporary Assistance Program for Needy Families (TANF) instead of traditional paper applications to identify qualifying schools.

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Nearly 87 percent of W.O. Parmer students qualify for free or reduced price meals. Across the district, nearly 81 percent of students qualify for free or reduced price meals.

“I am very excited about this opportunity,” said Butler County Schools Superintendent Amy Bryan.  “It will help all families served by this cafeteria. I hope we’ll be able to expand it to serve all Butler County students eventually. This is a one year pilot so it may not last beyond the year or grow to other schools but we can celebrate this first step and hope for success and expansion.”

The cafeteria at W.O. Parmer also serves students from Greenville Elementary School and Bright Beginnings. Those students will also be eligible for the free meals.

Bryan said alternative school students might also be served by the W.O. Parmer cafeteria, which would make them eligible for the program.

“This will help a lot of families,” Bryan said.

The school system will be reimbursed for the cost of the meals.

“We will receive more in reimbursement per meal than the paid meal price would have been,” Bryan said.

The cost of a full-price lunch is $1.75. Breakfast cost $1.25.

Bryan expects the reach of the program to go much farther than just the cafeteria.

“There is a ton of research that shows eating breakfast and eating well boost students’ learning,” she said.