A program that provided free breakfast to all elementary students at two local schools is ending.
Greenon and Southeastern local schools will no longer be able to serve free breakfast to all students. The Ohio Department of Education sent a letter alerting schools they would have to pay the extra cost if schools continued to serve breakfast for free to all students.
“I’m disappointed that we no longer have the ability to continue that program,” Southeastern Superintendent David Shea said. “We enjoyed being able to provide that service to the program but we are not able to do that due to requirements.”
No changes were made to the universal breakfast program, ODE spokeswoman Brittany Halpin said in an email, but the department cleared up confusion surrounding it.
Low-income students who qualify for free or reduced cost meals can continue to receive them. But districts have never been able to give free meals to students who don’t qualify without the school paying for it, she said.
Greenon began the program during the 2015-2016 school year and Southeastern started it last school year. The districts used the Universal Breakfast Program to provide free breakfast to all students. The schools then sought reimbursement for the meals from the state, Shea said.
Greenon sent home a letter informing parents that the school won’t be able to serve free breakfast to all students anymore. The schools will continue to serve breakfast until the beginning of next year.
“Beginning Jan. 3, 2018, Enon Primary and Indian Valley students who pay full price for lunch will pay $1.75 for breakfast,” the letter to parents from Greenon says. “Students who receive free or reduced lunch benefits are not affected by this notice. They will continue to receive free breakfast.”
Southeastern also will start charging at the beginning of the year. It will now charge students $1.50 for breakfast, Shea said.
Greenon’s letter says 612 schools across Ohio were contacted by the Ohio Department of Education.
Shea said when it started the kids became more focused in class after eating.
“It was a great program and I wish we could still provide it,” he said.
Greenon said in the letter that the extra cost is disappointing.
“We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause for your family,” the letter says. “Changes in the middle of the school year are never ideal and we try to avoid them whenever possible, but we are required to comply with the state’s order to discontinue the common Universal Breakfast practice.”