Plano School District 88 using CEP program to offer free meals to all students

Plano School District 88 recently sent an email informing families that the federal government did not extend waivers for the next school year to allow free meals for all students. Families once again would have pay full or reduced prices for breakfast and lunch at school.

In an effort to continue offering free meals for all students, the district’s board of education investigated an option called the Community Eligibility Provision.

After many hours of “summer homework,” the board recently announced that District 88 has been approved for CEP. With this new option in place, all students enrolled are eligible to receive a free healthy breakfast and lunch at school at no charge to their household each day of the 2022-23 school year.

In a statement, district officials said the CEP program “will be a great benefit to all students in D88.”

The district also provided answers to the following questions about the CEP program:

Q: What is the Community Eligibility Provision (or CEP Program)?

A: This is a provision that is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 that allows eligible schools to participate in a program providing breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge.

Q: When can my child start eating school meals at no charge?

A: The CEP program will begin on the first day of school, Aug. 17.

Q: Do I still need to fill out an application for free/reduced price meals at the beginning of the school year?

A: No, you no longer need to complete any paperwork to receive meals. No further action is required of District 88 families for their children to participate in free breakfast and lunch.

Q: Does my child have to participate in the CEP Program?

A: No, participation is voluntary, and students may elect to eat breakfast and/or lunch if they choose to do so. Parents may elect to pack a lunch for their child if they would prefer to do that. All meals exceed USDA mandated requirements and align with USDA dietary guidelines.

Q: How are meals being paid for?

A: The federal government provides reimbursement to District 88 for every breakfast and lunch served to help cover the costs of food provided.

Q: Will registration fees or my taxes be increased?

A: No, as this is a federally funded program, so it does not impact registration fees or local taxes. Registration fees will remain the same as last year and assessed to families after the start of the school year. An alternate Household and Income Form will be provided to families, in order to see if they qualify for reduced or waived fees. Some families may automatically qualify for fee waivers, if they are directly certified through the state of Illinois, because of SNAP or Medicaid benefits. Those families will not be required to fill out the HIF.

Q: Can the school menus be viewed?

A: Yes, they will be posted by Aug. 12 on the district website, www.plano88.org.

Q: Will students be able to purchase a second meal, a la carte items and/or milk?

A: Students in all grades may purchase milk if they have money in their PowerSchool lunch account. Students at Emily G Johns may purchase additional food after all students have been served during their lunch period. Middle and high school students may purchase second meals or a la carte items during their lunch period. Students may purchase additional items only if there is money in their PowerSchool lunch account. There will be no exceptions to this rule. Funds may be added by logging in to the student’s RevTrak account.

Q: Will I be refunded the balance in my students’ PowerSchool lunch account?

A: Yes, if your family’s balance is $25 or more. Otherwise, your child(ren) can use the money to purchase second meals and/or a la carte items. To receive a refund, email cgalloway@plano88.org.