North Haven-based  ACES provides free lunch and breakfast for students

NORTH HAVEN — Students at participating ACES schools will be provided with free breakfast and lunch for the 2019-2020 academic year. This includes all schools except for the Educational Center for the Arts in New Haven, which runs a half-day program, and Thomas Edison Middle School, whose lunch program is provided by Meriden Public Schools. 

The meal program allows all students to receive free meals regardless of their family’s income. 

“What we’re now in is something called the CEP, the Community Eligibility Program,” said Tim Howes, assistant executive director of finance and operations. “...if your school meets a certain criteria, and the criteria is if you have 40% or more of the students that are identified as direct certification...your school can be entirely free for lunch and breakfast,”

Direct certification is a compiled list of students and families who don’t need to fill out an application for free or reduced meals because they are already receiving benefits from SNAP or other nutritional programs.

Meals are created based on the five components regulated by the USDA: fruit, vegetables, whole grain, protein and dairy, said Thamar Rodriguez, director of dining for ACES.

Rodriguez said that ACES has also gotten involved with the USDA’s Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program, which allows her to purchase $10,000 of fresh produce from local farms. 

“Throughout the whole year I try to do tastings and do a monthly food focus that could be kale or spinach. Just different fresh fruits and vegetables that they might not try,” she said.

Students give feedback on meals through a committee. 

“Studies will show you that the basis of kids doing well in school is nutrition,” said Howes. “When we look at why CEP is so awesome, we want to feed everyone.”
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