Paris 95 continues student meal program

By NANCY ZEMAN nzeman@prairiepress.net
Posted 5/18/20

Students attending Paris Union School District 95 schools in the 2020-2021 school year will once again have access to free breakfasts and lunches, thanks to action by the Paris 95 school board during …

This item is available in full to subscribers.

Please log in to continue

E-mail or username
Password
Log in

Paris 95 continues student meal program

Posted

Students attending Paris Union School District 95 schools in the 2020-2021 school year will once again have access to free breakfasts and lunches, thanks to action by the Paris 95 school board during its May meeting Monday, May 11.

The board unanimously approved a recommendation from Paris 95 Superintendent of Schools Jeremy Larson to continue the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) program for the 2020-2021 school year. The school board voted to offer the program for the 2019-2020 school year as a pilot program.

CEP is a non-pricing meal service option for schools and school districts in low-income areas. CEP allows the nation's highest poverty schools and districts to serve breakfast and lunch at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications.

Larson reported the school lunch program is currently running a deficit of $46,125.90 but emphasized not all the revenue for the program has been collected. When schools were ordered to move to e-learning on March 17, the USDA switched districts participating in the CEP to the summer lunch program.

“This was a very popular program for our district families,” Larson said. Although the district’s lunch program prior to joining the USDA’s CEP program usually was close to breaking even, the superintendent noted, “We are feeding a whole lot more people than just our students.”

The Paris 95 district not only provided breakfasts and lunches, they delivered to families in both Paris 95 and Crestwood districts as well as PHS students. “We didn’t turn anyone away,” Larson said, including food insecure adults and senior citizens who were hesitant to leave their homes to shop due to the COVID-19 virus.

Larson, who has always described himself as a fiscal conservative, said he is personally fiscally comfortable with continuing the program.

CEP simplifies the process by which students — in this case preschool through eighth grade — access healthy school meals. In addition, there is no stigma attached to receiving a free meal as all students are eligible. To be eligible, a school district must have a percentage of at least 40% eligible for free or reduced.

In other business, the board:

-Accepted the IESA’s new rule that a coach who is ejected from a game for a second time must pay a fine of $250. A student ejected for a second time must pay $100 to return. The IESA makes the school district pay the fine but Paris 95 is now requiring the guilty parties to reimburse the district before returning to participate.

-Heard several letters and notes from local families and individuals praising the food program for students and families since school was closed on March 17.