Federal Grant Allows All Schools In Washington To Provide Free M - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Federal Grant Allows All Schools In Washington To Provide Free Meals For Students

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 YAKIMA, WA.- Thanks to a Federal grant all schools in Washington are now able to provide meals without cost for their students.

The program allows school districts with high numbers of low income households to serve their students breakfast and lunch at no cost.

     The Yakima School District told KNDO this program is creating a whole new environment in their schools.

“We saw kids daily who really needed to eat who weren't getting proper nutrition and you can not learn if you are not well fed,” Superintendent Elaine Beraza told us.

     The Community Eligibility Provision Program eliminates the stress that many low-income families went through while filling out applications for free or reduced price meals.

     But local parents told us it's not just a stress reliever for them, it is for their kids as well.

 “A lot of days he wouldn't even eat lunch at school because he was nervous that everyone would think bad about him,” Jerri Dudenhoeffer, a parent of a student at Lewis and Clark Middle School, told KNDO.

     Jerri told us her nephew would often go to school and skip meals, because he felt embarrassed in front of his friends for receiving reduced price meals.

     But she feels with this new program it has erased that gap between poor and rich.

“It's nice that there is no more separation between you're rich and you're poor, or you cant afford dinner and I can. So it's nice that the kids get to feel equal,” Dudenhoeffer said.

     The program was introduced into eleven different states last year and just now has become available to all schools in Washington.

The Yakima School District told us they're also introducing a new fresh fruit and vegetable program into their elementary schools.

     They say the key to a brighter future is ensuring they have well-fed healthy students.

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