Beginning this school year, all Dorchester students can receive school meals at no charge.
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Baltimore, September 25, 2017 — Beginning this school year, no child in Dorchester County will have to go hungry at school or be denied a meal or otherwise subject to embarrassment because he or she does not have the money to pay. Dorchester County Public Schools recently adopted the federal Community Eligibility Provision, which allows schools to provide breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge — essentially becoming Hunger-Free Schools.
Community eligibility boosts school meals participation, reduces paperwork and red tape, and helps eliminate the stigma that school meal programs are only for low-income children. And, since no student is charged for either breakfast or lunch, community eligibility effectively ends lunch shaming, further mitigating stigma.
“Dorchester County Public Schools (DCPS) elected to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) because we could provide all students a nutritious breakfast and lunch meal at no cost,” said Ingrid Ramos, food services manager for Dorchester County Public Schools. “CEP allows us to concentrate on increasing meal participation, minimizing stigma associated with free meals and eliminating paper work associated with meal applications and unpaid balances. CEP is helping DCPS students in being ready to learn and well nourished.”
In the 2016-2017 school year, there were 229 Hunger-Free Schools in Maryland serving more than 98,200 students, including the entire districts of Somerset County and Baltimore City. Schools in Baltimore, Cecil, Frederick, Garrett, Howard, Prince George’s, Washington, and Wicomico counties participated in community eligibility in the 2016-2017 school year as well.
“We applaud Dorchester County Public Schools for taking this important step toward ensuring all students have access to school breakfast and lunch every day so they can be healthy and ready to learn,” said Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions. “This is a great investment in the young people of Dorchester County.”
More information on community eligibility, including a list of all Maryland schools that are eligible, is available in Maryland Hunger Solutions’ report, Creating Healthier Students and Better Learners with the School Breakfast Program: Maryland’s Report Card for the 2015-2016 School Year (pdf).
Maryland Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center, works to end hunger throughout the state of Maryland.