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Florence 1 Schools continues district-wide free meals for all students for 2024-2025 school year

Florence 1 Schools continues district-wide free meals for all students for 2024-2025 school year

Breakfast and lunch will continue to be free for all Florence 1 Schools students after the Board of Trustees voted to continue the district’s participation in the USDA Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) next school year.

“This is a tremendous savings for our parents, especially those who may have more than one child in the district,” said Superintendent Richard O’Malley. “Now, the money they would have spent on buying breakfast and lunch at school can go toward other things they need for their household.”

To date, for the 2023-2024 school year, 668,325 breakfasts have been served and 1,257,815 lunches have been served. Those numbers translate to roughly 34 percent of students participating at breakfast and 63 percent of students participating at lunch. When the district was non-CEP, less than 30 percent of students got school breakfast and less than 50 percent got school lunch. 

“We believe that by continuing under the CEP program, we are supporting the families in our community,” said Florence 1 Chief Finance Officer Laura Showe. “Receiving a free, healthy breakfast and lunch every day, our students are more prepared and equipped for the instructional day, both mentally and physically.”

Schools or districts now qualify for CEP when 25 percent or more of their students are directly certified for free or reduced meals because they are already getting Medicaid or other benefits, this is known as the identified student percentage or ISP. An ISP of 60 percent or higher makes it financially beneficial for a district to participate. Florence 1’s ISP is 69 percent. 

The district’s annual net revenue is expected to be $952,656.60 for the current school year. By operating under the CEP program, the district will have increased its net revenue by more than $350,000 which can then be re-invested into school cafeterias for items such as new ovens, freezers and cafeteria tables, or even a complete remodel of a school kitchen if necessary.