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More MA schools elect "community eligibility" free school meals; DESE issues new guidance on "economically disadvantaged" students in light of CEP!

Community Eligibility Program (CEP) Option taken by More Massachusetts Schools!

Below is press from both the Pittsfield and North Adams School Districts announcing their school's embrace of the terrific CEP option to provide free meals to all students in a specific school or school district where there are high concentrations of low income students.This is EXCELLENT news!  CEP means that schools do not ask families to fill out the National School Lunch Program application and, more importantly, all students in the school or school district get free school meals (lunch, and breakfast if offered). For more information on CEP, check out these CEP resources from our national partners. 
One of the challenges for school districts in electing CEP was how they would track students for purposes of Chapter 70 and other programs that require poverty data. Historically schools have collected information from the NSLP application forms and "direct certification" of kids for free school meals. The Mass Department of Early and Secondary Education issued new guidance last week for schools that includes a new metric on determining "economically disadvantaged" students here:  
The DESE guidance instructs school districts that "economically disadvantaged " students are students who receive one of the following programs or services: TAFDC, SNAP, MassHealth (Medicad) or DCF Foster Care. As noted by DESE, this new definition of low income student will affect Chapter 60 funding as well as grant programs based on poverty data and more. We will keep you posted as we get more clarification on this policy and how schools will be using it. 
For SNAP advocates, this new DESE definition underscores the importance of getting more families back onto the SNAP program!  Remember, low income families may be SNAP eligible (depending on shelter and child care costs) up to 200% FPL! 

Next SNAP Triage 101 Training in Worcester on June 12th:

Reminder to register for the SNAP Triage training on June 12th if you want need tips on how to fix erroneous denials or termination of SNAP benefits as we work on larger systemic fixes to our broken SNAP system. The training is scheduled for Friday, June 12, 2015 from 10:00 AM-12:30 PM. It will be held at Community Legal Aid, 405 Main Street 3rd Floor, Worcester, MA 01608