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Minidoka schools lose free breakfast for all students, federal changes also impact other districts

Student D’Andre Neiwert gets lunch April 26 at Heyburn Elementary School. (Drew Nash / Times-News)
Student D’Andre Neiwert gets lunch April 26 at Heyburn Elementary School. (Drew Nash / Times-News)
By Laurie Welch Times-News

RUPERT, Idaho – Many Magic Valley students will no longer receive free breakfast at school this year after the Federal School Lunch Program changed its eligibility formula.

Minidoka County students who are eligible for free or reduced lunches will still qualify for free breakfasts, but free breakfasts will not be available to students who do not qualify. Breakfast costs for other Minidoka County students will be $1.75 per day.

“For families that are strapped, this is going to have an impact. This will be a hit,” Ken Cox, district superintendent said.

The federal changes have also affected the Twin Falls School District’s non-Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools, Spokeswoman Eva Craner wrote in an email.

CEP allows the nation’s highest poverty districts and schools to serve breakfast at no cost to all enrolled students without collecting household applications.

Twin Falls schools where free breakfast will still be available are Lincoln, Bickel, Morningside, Oregon Trail, Perrine and Harrison elementary schools along with South Hills Middle School, Bridge Academy and Magic Valley High School.

Cox said families should review the wage qualification chart on the district’s website to see if their family qualifies for free and reduced lunches. The application is also on the website.

“I don’t know how many parents are taking advantage of it,” Cox said. “And I think sometimes high school students don’t like to turn in those forms.”

Cassia County School District Spokeswoman Debbie Critchfield said students in the Cassia County district may also be impacted by the federal program changes too, but officials are still discussing the issue.

Critchfield said the low unemployment rate and the number of available jobs in the area have impacted the formula used to determine eligibility.

“We are still discussing what that means for us and how that will impact students,” she said.

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