GDOE expands free meals to all students

BREAKFAST: In this August 2016 file photo, second-graders Kyrick Reyes and Algeria Gumataotao get their breakfast in the Talofofo Elementary School cafeteria on the first day of school. The Guam Department of Education has announced its students can now enjoy no-cost meals at their respective schools. Post file photo

The Guam Department of Education will add nine more schools to its Community Eligibility Program, which allows the department to serve breakfast and lunch to all students at these schools at no costs.

With the additional nine schools, all 26 Guam elementary schools now offer free meals to all their students.

"This will enable us to ensure that all of our elementary school students have nutritional meals and are ready to learn when they are in our classrooms. We also hope that this effort will help address and reduce child hunger across our island," Education Superintendent Jon Fernandez stated in a release.

The no-cost meal program is provided through the federally funded Community Eligibility Provision grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. An initial 21 schools participated in the early pilot while six schools were added in 2016.

The superintendent has ultimate authority on which schools participate in the program, but the number of students on federal nutritional assistance forms the basis of determining eligibility. If a school has 40 percent of students on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, then it qualifies.

The vast majority of Guam public schools qualify to participate in the program and the department also continually gathers data to determine how the program can be expanded.

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