Thousands of Calcasieu Parish students in 39 public schools will be served breakfast and lunch at no charge beginning in August.

The Community Eligibility Provision, part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's National School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs, allows schools located in low-income areas to offer free meals without the need to collect individual paperwork from every student.

An estimated 25,600 Calcasieu Parish School Board students will be eligible to receive free meals, said Holly Holland, CPSB public information officer. Cypress Cove, Frasch, LeBleu Settlement and St. John Elementary are the four newest schools added to the program beginning in the 2019-2020 school year.

In addition to the new eligible schools, CPSB schools will also offer a grab-and-go option for breakfast, ensuring all students have a healthy start to their day regardless of their arrival time.

"The School Nutrition Program is proud to offer a healthy and delicious start to the day for all Calcasieu Parish students," Jacqueline Richard, CPSB school nutrition program director, said. "We know that a great day starts with a great breakfast."

Two of the Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy Foundation's schools, Southwest Louisiana Charter Academy and Lake Charles College Prep, will also participate in the program, impacting potentially 1,100 students.

Claudia Andreea Nenu, coordinator for the charter system's nutrition program, said the standard's set forth in the federally governed program ensure students are getting meals that meet the highest health standards helping to fight obesity, poor health and food insecurity.

Good nutrition not only supports a healthy lifestyle but is also is the backbone of academic success, Sabrah Kingham, Charter Schools USA's director of education, said.

"Kids have to be in the right mind set in order to learn and nutrition is an important factor in that," she said.

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