HENRICO COUNTY, Va. — All students at 10 Henrico County public schools will be able to eat two free meals a day throughout the coming school year, thanks to the expansion of a federal program.
Henrico Public Schools officials have broadened the school system’s participation in the Community Eligibility Provision program, which enables schools with a high percentage of low-income students to offer free breakfast and lunch to all students.
The change could save some families $774 or more in food costs during the school year; that amount is what it would cost for a student to purchase a breakfast ($1.50) and a lunch ($2.80) during each of the 180 days of school.
The schools at which free meals will be offered are: Adams Elementary, Fair Oaks Elementary, Glen Lea Elementary, Highland Springs Elementary, Laburnum Elementary, New Bridge Learning Center, Ratcliffe Elementary, Sandston Elementary, The Academy at Virginia Randolph and Wilder Middle.
Four of those schools (Glen Lea, Highland Springs, Laburnum and New Bridge) participated in the program last year, according to HCPS Director of School Nutrition Services Peggy Gordon.
The expansion means that “parents can be assured their students are getting two healthy meals a day,” Gordon said.
The blanket coverage of all students at those schools also eliminates the need for families in need to complete application forms for free or reduced lunches, she said.
That process can become an unintentional roadblock at times for families with language barriers whose students would qualify but whose parents are hesitant or unable to complete the application forms. It also create time-consuming paperwork for school administrators, who now will be free to spend that time in other ways.