August 27, 2014 – Newark, New Jersey – Newark Public Schools announced today that it will take advantage of a new federal program – the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act – to offer free meals at 19 schools starting next week. The Act’s Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) eliminates the need for parents to complete applications for free and reduced lunch meal applications. All students at participating schools will be served free meals, regardless of their family’s income level.
The program is part of a federal initiative that makes nutritious meals more accessible to students in low-income communities by eliminating the need to fill out paperwork, including sensitive questions about income. The district will pilot the free lunch program this year throughout the city with the intention to expand the program in future years.
Access to free breakfast and lunch has successfully increased the number of students that receive regular nutritious meals and contributed to better student outcomes in states where the program is already underway.
“We care deeply about our students and are focused on supporting their academic and non-academic needs. All kids deserve nutritious meals. Throughout the summer, we worked with community advocates, board members, and partners in government to advance this goal. Today, we are taking a big step forward in making sure that every student is nurtured and ready to learn,” said Superintendent Cami Anderson. “Our participation in this program demonstrates our continued commitment to give all Newark students every advantage possible in reaching their full potential.”
West Side School Principal Larry Ramkissoon added, “Working closely with students and families as an educator, I have seen firsthand the positive impact that healthy meals can have on a child’s ability to focus, learn and retain information. Additionally, this new effort will help to alleviate the stigma associated with students receiving free or reduced meals in school.”
“The community has been very frustrated by the lunch form process – because it means older kids who are not otherwise eligible or who don’t get their forms can’t get free meals and sometimes don’t eat. This has been an issue in Newark for years. We congratulate NPS for working hard to find a solution and for thinking out of the box,” said advocate Denise Crawford.
The Newark school sites participating in the CEP in the 2014-2015 school year are: Barringer STEAM, Barringer Arts and Humanities, Technology, East Side, University, Arts, NJ Regional Day, JFK, Central, Weequahic, Fast Track Success Academy, West Side, Shabazz, American History, Bard Early College and Science Park.