Philadelphia Decides to Feed All of Its Students

I remember when I taught in high school and distributed to students paper applications to determine eligibility for free and reduced lunch.  Many of the applications never reached the parents.  I found them on the floor of the room.  Students were ashamed of their family situation which made them eligible for free and reduced breakfast and lunch.  The School District of Philadelphia has come up with a simple solution by supplying all of their students with free  can receive school breakfast and lunch free of charge starting this fall without having to submit a paper application. Anticipated benefits include better access to school meals by easing the strain on household budgets, reducing the paperwork burden on families and eliminating the stigma associated with the free lunch program.

Removing the meal application and the need for cash payments will reduce internal administrative costs and reallocate some existing Food Services personnel.  The increased efficiencies will help the Food Services division financially as it works towards the goal of increasing the number of full-service kitchens in District schools. The District has offered breakfast at no cost to all schools for the past four years. Since 1991, approximately 175 schools have participated in a universal lunch program where all students were able to receive free lunch without completing paperwork. Under the new program, an estimated 85 schools will join their ranks.  Approximately 80 percent of Philadelphia public and charter school students meet income guidelines for school meals. More than 143,000 students in Philadelphia are served annually. During the 2013-14 school year, more than 27 million meals were served, including dinner as part of afterschool programs at approximately 100 school meal sites.

Nationwide, more than 13 million children are served school breakfast and more than 32 million receive school lunch annually. Research has shown links between school meals and improved attendance, nutrition and academic performance.

My hat goes off to the superintendent of the District for putting children first.