Tammy Stables Battaglia, Detroit Free Press, August 16, 2011
All Detroit Public Schools students will receive free breakfast, lunch and snacks in an effort to remove the stigma of being from a low-income family.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture program chose Michigan as one of three states to participate in the pilot program. Charter schools and districts in Michigan can participate if at least 40% of students are eligible for public assistance.
“One of the primary goals of this program is to eliminate the stigma that students feel when they get a free lunch, as opposed to paying cash,” said DPS Chief Operating Officer Mark Schrupp. “Some students would skip important meals to avoid being identified as low-income. Now, all students will walk through a lunch line and not have to pay. Low-income students will not be easily identifiable and will be less likely to skip meals.”
The Community Eligibility Option is among the early reforms enacted under President Obama’s Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act, which authorized the USDA to select up to three states to test the option in School Year 2011-12. A main factor in choosing the finalists was the prevalence of high-poverty areas. The option will be offered to more states in successive years, and will be available to all states beginning School Year 2014-15.