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Legislature to consider making more schools hunger-free

CC by 2.0 via flickr user USDAgov

CC by 2.0 via flickr user USDAgov

We all want kids to succeed in the classroom. This week, the Legislature has the opportunity to fuel students’ learning by making more Nebraska schools hunger-free zones through LB 1066, which would include provisions of LB 1004 and LB 1065 through a committee amendment.

The underlying bill is the annual technical bill for education in Nebraska, and through AM 2640, would make important changes to allow more schools to take advantage of the federal Community Eligibility Provision (CEP). The CEP allows schools in high-poverty areas to serve free breakfasts and lunches to all students. Research shows that universal school meals increases meal participation and improves overall health and nutrition for students.

Nebraska has one of the lowest uptakes of this important provision in the country: only 8 of 109 eligible schools adopted the provision in the most recent school year. Although CEP has seen great success across the country for the benefits it brings to schools and students, there has been uncertainty in our state regarding how the changes in data collection would affect state funding for schools, particularly through the poverty allowance.

LB 1066 would clarify this issue by allowing schools that adopt CEP to utilize a proxy measure to represent poverty in the student population for the purposes of state aid. The new language would allow schools to multiply their identified student percentage (ISP), which includes students who are directly certified for free or reduced lunch through their participation in other state programs, such as public assistance. For many schools, this calculated number will underestimate actual levels of poverty, since directly certified students only represent a subset of students in poverty. The amendment incorporates language from LB 1004 to clarify that the new proxy number may not be less than the most recent year’s number of qualified students.

The changes from LB 1004 and LB 1065 would ensure that schools would not risk losing much-needed state funding when opting to keep their schools hunger-free. We urge you to reach out to your senator to share your support for allowing schools to maximize opportunities to feed our kids more efficiently!

Find your senator here to voice your support for the adoption of AM 2640 and the advancement of LB 1066.

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