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Free meal plan expands at local school district

BATH, N.Y. - Free breakfast and lunch will be available to every student at Bath Central School District in September 2018. 

This free lunch program is offered through the Community Eligibility Program (CEP). It offers reimbursements and meal service options for schools and school districts in low-income areas. 

"We have a lot of kids in our district that (don't) get the proper nutrition. They don't get meals at home, I mean, this could very well be the only breakfast and lunch...two meals out of the day, that they get," Mary Seager, a cook at Vernon Wightman Primary School.

All students between pre-K and 12th grade will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch at the school district in the coming school year. 

The Vernon Wightman Primary School was initially awarded free meals from the CEP based on student poverty rates that exceeded the 50 percent threshold. 

Now that poverty rate expanded throughout the rest of the school district, prompting free meals for all in the following school year. 

"So many of our older kids won't return our free and reduced application or anything like that based on, you know, there might be a stigma with it, but they're coming from some households that are folks around hard times," Joe Rumsey, Superintendent of the Bath Central School District, said. "If we can provide a program where everybody gets a free breakfast and a free lunch starting in September 2018, that's awesome."

The award will be effective for the next four years. 

"We're going to apply every year, if anything changes, it extends that four years out until we're in a better economical region, state of region, and then it's less of an issue," Rumsey said. 

Parents will be given more information about the free meals as the next school year approaches. 

Starting next month, kids and teens under the age of 18 are eligible for free breakfast and lunch during the summer in the Haverling High School Cafeteria and the Dormann Free library. No application needed. 


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