Providence Public Schools to expand free meals program
The district is expanding its pilot program from 13 to all 22 elementary schools.
This September, all elementary school children in Providence Public Schools may eat
breakfast and lunch for free due to the district’s expansion of the Community
Eligibility Provision (CEP) federal program.
“Providence Public Schools are committed to creating educational environments that
support health and wellness,” said Robert Gondola Jr., secretary for the Providence
School Board and chairman of the board’s Health and Wellness Committee. “The
decision to make all elementary school meals free to students removes the financial
stress some families may feel and ensures that students have both breakfast and
lunch readily available to them.”
In 2016, 13 of the district’s 22 elementary schools adopted a no-fee meal policy as
part of a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) pilot program. Through this program,
the federal government reimburses low-income school districts for student meal costs
based not on individual student eligibility but on overall district eligibility.
Based on the success of the pilot, the Providence Public Schools is now expanding
the free meal program to all its elementary schools for the 2017-18 school year. New
additions to the program include:
* Anthony Carnevale Elementary
* Vartan Gregorian Elementary
* Robert F. Kennedy Elementary
* Martin Luther King Jr. Elementary
* Leviton Dual Language Academy
* Pleasant View Elementary
* Reservoir Avenue Elementary
* Webster Street Elementary
* George J. West Elementary
A school district’s CEP eligibility and reimbursement are calculated based on usage
of such programs as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) and
Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF).
Christopher N. Maher, superintendent of Providence Public Schools, said, “Good
nutrition impacts every facet of the lives of growing children, and research shows
that children who eat healthy lunches are more likely to achieve in school.
Providing free, nutritious lunches for our elementary school students makes good
On a secondary school level, free and reduced lunch eligibility is still determined
on a student-by-student basis, according to family income level. However, in the
Providence Public School District, students are not denied lunch if they are unable
to pay, regardless of their eligibility.
In the 2016-17 school year, 85% percent of Providence Public School District’s
students qualified for free or reduced lunch.
The Providence Public School District serves approximately 24,000 students and their
families through 22 elementary schools, 7 middle schools, 10 high schools and 2
public district charter schools. Our diverse student body identifies as 63 percent
Hispanic, 17 percent Black, 10 percent White, 5 percent Asian, 4 percent
Multi-racial and 1 percent Native American. Approximately 26 percent of our students
are English Language Learners. For more information, visit