Target: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Goal: Commend program that allows students in low-income schools the option of free breakfast as well as lunch, allowing students the opportunity to start their day off right.
Child hunger is a problem that affects millions of kids throughout the U.S. on the daily basis. Many kids who come from low-income families go to school hungry, which severely affects their ability to concentrate and succeed academically. However, thanks to the new program by the USDA called the Community Eligibility Option, this won’t be a problem for many kids this upcoming school year. In this program, all students at low income schools that are enrolled in the program eat free breakfast and lunch at school. The USDA came up with this program after Congress passed a law in 2010 called the Healthy, Hungry-Free Kids Act in 2010. This law allowed the USDA to take a stand and a more active role to reform nutrition programs for needy children and families. It also gives the USDA more funding, and is allows them to set policy as far as these nutrition programs are concerned.
Time and time again, breakfast has been proven to be the most important meal of the day. Kids who regularly eat nutritious breakfasts have been proven to perform better academically, behave better, have higher attendance records, get sick less often, and concentrate more than children who are sent to school hungry. Giving these kids a nutritious breakfast each day gives them a better chance of succeeding in school.
Prior to this program being implemented, parents were tasked with filling out paperwork and proving eligibility for reduced price lunches or free lunches. Now, it is up to the school to join the Community Eligibility Option as an entire body. In order to qualify, 40% of students enrolled in the school must be receiving governmental aid, whether it be food stamps or another type of federal assistance for needy families. Once this 40% mark is met, the school qualifies as a whole and reduces the need to fill out paperwork for each student. The process is fast and much easier than filling out individual papers for each student.
Supporters of this new program say that the schools involved are actually saving money and improving efficiency by eliminating paperwork and other bureaucratic costs. Also, the stigma that goes with receiving free or reduced lunch is now eliminated, as everyone is receiving their meals free of cost. At the same time, they are providing needy kids with nutritious meals. It is a win-win situation.
The program began in Illinois, Michigan and Kentucky, but has now spread across 10 states plus the District of Columbia. By the 2014-2015 school year, this program will be available to all districts countrywide, should they so chose to apply for it. Sign the petition to commend the USDA on their excellent work to create and instill this program step-by-step, benefiting thousands of school-aged children nationwide.
Dear U.S. Department of Agriculture,
I’d like to commend your work on the Community Eligibility Option program that allows entire schools to file for free breakfast and lunches for their needy students. This is an excellent idea, and it is much more efficient than requiring each individual student qualify when most likely the majority of students will qualify in the same area.
Because of this program, children across the nation will have the opportunity to eat nutritious breakfasts and lunches, and start their day off on a much better foot than if they were arriving at school hungry. It has been proven time and time again that eating breakfast allows people to focus more and work more efficiently, especially in the case of young children. Hopefully this program will be proven to lower behavioral problems and sharpen kids’ attention spans.
Thank you for all of the hard work you’ve done for our nation’s most needy children.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: growingraw