Stafford, Spotsylvania students will receive free school meals this year

All students enrolled in Stafford and Spotsylvania county public schools will receive free breakfast and lunch this school year.

Families are not required to submit an application for free or reduced-price meals in order to receive the free service. However, divisions are still encouraging families to submit the application because school funding and eligibility for other programs, such as Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer—or P-EBT—are dependent on completed meal applications.


Stafford and Spotsylvania schools participated in the Seamless Summer Option, a federal- and state-funded program that encourages schools participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s school lunch and breakfast programs to provide free meals to low-income areas during summer break.


For the 2021–22 school year, the USDA has established a waiver permitting the Seamless Summer Option to operate during the regular school year, through June 30, 2022.


Fredericksburg City Public Schools has provided free breakfast and lunch to all enrolled elementary students since 2017, and to all students in the division since last year under the Community Eligibility Provision, a national program authorized as part of the Healthy Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010.


The provision allows any school district, group of schools in a district or individual school with 40 percent or more students identified as high-need—through participation in other assistance programs or being automatically eligible for free meals because they are homeless, migrant, in foster care, or enrolled in Head Start—to provide free meals to all students, without requiring applications.


Caroline County Public Schools was approved to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision in August 2020. Having CEP in place means families are automatically approved for the P-EBT program. According to Virginia Department of Education data, 13 out of the 30 schools public schools in Spotsylvania are eligible to participate in the Community Eligibility Provision. A further 12 schools in the division are nearing eligibility. Five Stafford public schools, out of 32, are eligible, and eight more are nearing eligibility. In King George, only King George Elementary School is nearing eligibility, with 36 percent of students identified as being in need.


This article originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star.

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