The childhood poverty rate has been climbing in Kansas for more than a decade. Right now, it’s up to 23 percent – that’s about 1 in 4 Kansas kids living below the paltry federal poverty level. These children and their families face countless struggles that come with being poor – one of the pressing of which is getting enough food to eat.
There are programs and organizations that are working hard to provide these kids with nutritious meals each day, but they struggle to address the enormous need in our community. A new opportunity, available in Kansas for the first time this year, called the Community Eligibility Provision is probably our best shot at supporting these efforts (May 11 Eagle).
Community eligibility is a federal program that allows high-poverty schools to provide both breakfast and lunch to all students at no cost to families. It’s a great opportunity for Wichita schools. Here’s why:
Schools in other states that have already adopted community eligibility have experienced a dramatic increase in the number of students participating in school meals. Nearly 1 million children have benefited so far.
Now that community eligibility is an option here in Kansas, it’s urgent that we take this opportunity to reduce childhood hunger, support our schools, and give Kansas kids the nutritious food they need to learn, play and thrive.