More schools offering free lunch for students

By Ryan Ottney

July 30, 2013

Ryan Scott Ottney

PDT Staff Writer

Several more schools in Scioto County will receive assistance from the Ohio Department of Education’s Community Eligibility Option (CEO), offering free lunch to every student within their district. Portsmouth City Schools announced last week they have been accepted into the program, and the Department of Education this week announced that the Scioto County Career Technical Center, New Boston School, and Sciotoville School are also participating this year to receive free lunches for all students.

The CEO program is separate from the traditional free and reduced lunch program offered by public schools — which already covered 83 percent of the 526 students attending New Boston School (pre-K through 12). In order to qualify for the CEO program, at least 40 percent of the students attending the district have to come from homes that currently receive assistance from Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Ohio Works First, or other state programs, or students who might be homeless.

Students at New Boston were already getting free breakfast, Superintendent Mike Staggs said. Now with the help of the CEO program, they’ll also be getting free lunches. The CEO program will pay for a basic, certified lunch such as hamburgers, pizza or chicken. A la carte menu items still cost extra.

“There’s a stigma with getting a free and reduced lunch. Now, especially with our student ID system which is slowly getting worked into ever facet of our daily lives. They will just simply scan their card so we have a count and no one pays anything. There’s no stigma. No one knows, and that’s a great thing,” Staggs said.

Not only does the program ensure students have access to a nutritious meal, but it also helps struggling households. One parent commenting on the New Boston PTO Facebook page said lunches cost $1.25 every day, and she has three kids attending New Boston School. The CEO program now saves her almost $700 a year.

Students return to New Boston School on Aug. 20.

Marquita Riepenhoff, spokesperson for Scioto County Career Technical Center, said the program will be very beneficial to their students.

“To be able to not only have a free breakfast, but to have a free lunch. When we look at their health and their well-being, it’s very important that students have property nourishment and we’re excited to have an opportunity to provide this for our student body,” she said.

Ryan Scott Ottney may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or rottney@civitasmedia.com. For breaking news, follow Ryan on Twitter @PDTwriter.