Oklahoma Schools Leave $17 Million on the Table Annually

Oklahoma Watch report addresses student hunger

Imagine fighting hunger – and the stigma that comes with a “free or reduced meals” application – in our public schools with free breakfast and lunch for all students. 

In Houston, that dream has become a reality. Houston ISD offers breakfast and lunch free of charge in all elementary and middle schools (even some high schools). In all, 220 schools participate in the program by starting the day with breakfast in the classroom. As a result, the district has seen a decrease in school absences and behavioral issues. In a school district where 1 in 4 kids live in poverty, offering free breakfast and lunch allows the administration to focus on educating children – not filing free or reduced meal applications.

In Oklahoma, adoption of the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), the program that reimburses schools for free breakfast and lunches, has lagged behind the nation. In the 2015-2016 school year, only 21% of eligible campuses in Oklahoma were participating, compared to 50% of eligible schools across the United States. In all, Oklahoma schools left $17 million on the table in available funding last year.

However, CEP adoption is expanding across the state and Hunger Free Oklahoma is here to help schools determine if CEP is a good fit for them, provide resources and technical assistance to increase participation, and work statewide to ensure that CEP policies support schools who offer all students access to healthy food during school hours. To learn more about this program, or share your CEP story, please contact us today!