The number of schools offering free meals to all students through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s community-eligibility provision jumped 20 percent this year, the second year the option has been available nationwide, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said last week.
More than 17,000 high-poverty schools now offer free, federally subsidized meals to about 8 million students through the provision. He also said that 97 percent of schools that participate in federal school meal programs are in compliance with heightened federal nutrition standards.
Under community eligibility, qualifying schools offer universal free meals without requiring students to qualify through family-income verification. Districts have said that paperwork can be a hurdle that keeps otherwise eligible students from eating free or reduced-price meals.
A version of this article appeared in the November 04, 2015 edition of Education Week as More Schools Offer Free Meals to All Students