TROY — Troy City Schools’ food service department is monitoring the financial ramifications of the old adage that “there is no such thing as a free lunch.”
In 2014, Troy City Schools’ enrolled Kyle and Heywood Elementary buildings in the United States Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) free lunch and breakfast program. The schools have participated in the program for two school years.
When Troy City Schools adopted the CEP program, it stopped asking Heywood and Kyle parents to verify their income to get a free- or reduced-price lunch and breakfast. Since the percentage of students eligible for free lunches was the benchmark of the school-buildings’ poverty classification, making everyone eligible, the district also unwittingly experienced sizable loss in revenue.
Yet, district officials are taking a hard look at the numbers to determine whether to continue the program at the two buildings due to the financial losses the district is experiencing from the CEP program.
According to Troy City School’s food service director Sharon Babcock, the district has lost $45,488 in revenue during the last two years the two elementary buildings have been enrolled in the CEP program, compared to the same numbers had the district not enrolled in the first place.
“It’s more of a loss of revenue that we felt we would had gotten had we not been on that program,” Babcock said. “The USDA is working on it right now because they have seen that this did not cause a positive effect, it caused a negative effect.”
Human resources director Marion Stout said the district’s food service program is closely monitoring the numbers from the two elementary buildings to determine whether the schools will continue to participate in the CEP program. The district can opt out of the program at any time.
Stout said the district’s food service program already operates at a loss. In 2015, the food service department operated in the red for a $132,511.59 deficit.
The CEP program was created as part of the Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to streamline the paperwork involved in free lunch and breakfast and to increase participation in districts in which 40 percent or more of students previously qualified for free- or reduced-price meals. The program began as a way to eliminate the need for families to apply for free- or reduced-price breakfast and lunch, and it eliminates the need for the school system to process the applications and verify the information.
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