Back to School Series, NC Budget and Tax Center

Little things can make big differences in children’s lives

This is part of a Back to School blog series that highlight various issues to be aware of as the 2014-15 school year kicks off. (See Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, and Part 4)

Little things can make big differences in children’s lives. Something as simple as arriving to class with food in your stomach can enhance a child’s learning experience. Many schools across North Carolina recognize this and are offering breakfast and lunch to all of their students at no charge this school year.

As part of the nationwide Community Eligibility Program (CEP), high-poverty schools in at least 36 school systems across North Carolina will provide breakfast and lunch to all students free of charge. This effort not only aims to help end childhood hunger – one in five American schoolchildren can’t count on getting enough nutritious food at home – but also aims to enhance the classroom experience of students. Ensuring that children show up in classrooms each day fed and ready to learn increases the chances of students being more focused, attentive, and engaged.

The school year marks the first year in which eligible schools nationwide can participate in CEP. With all students provided breakfast and lunch free of charge, participating schools are no longer required to collect school meal applications, which reduces administrative costs. These cost savings can now be directed towards covering the cost of the school meals that are provided.

High-poverty schools in other states that have offered breakfast and lunch to all their students free of charge have seen significant increases in the number of kids participating in their school meal programs. Here in North Carolina, Durham Public Schools offers breakfast to all its students free of charge and saw a huge increase in the number of meals served last school year. National data show that school districts that provide breakfast programs at no cost to students have higher test scores, fewer disciplinary problems and students are more focused.

The CEP initiative serves as a great step in helping end childhood hunger and ensuring that all students in North Carolina are afforded a quality education. So, as we embark upon a new and exciting school year, let’s make sure students attending CEP schools arrive to school on time each day in order to receive their free-of-charge breakfast, the most important meal of the day!

A listing of all North Carolina school districts and individual schools that are eligible for community eligibility for the 2014-15 school year can be found via the NC Department of Public Instruction website.

3 Comments


  1. love my state

    August 29, 2014 at 1:51 pm

    i kept waiting for the other shoe to drop as i read this, waiting for a line that goes something like “except that hidden in the budget is a provision which makes it illegal for the state of nc to participate in socialist activities like feeding children for free.” a small glimmer of hope still burns within me.

  2. Susan

    August 30, 2014 at 7:52 am

    Does not have to be a secret hidden law. Just has to be government funded for children in schools with a low socioeconomic population. I see schools that are eligible but not participating.
    The current powers that be have slashed money for DPI so deeply probably no one available to even read about this program much less apply for it. If it costs the LEA any money it will not happen…..

  3. Anne Nonymous

    September 9, 2014 at 6:23 am

    Has anyone eaten these breakfasts? They are pseudo-nutritious, pre-packaged, brand-name junk food pretending to be good for kids. A hot, fresh breakfast would be life-changing for many of our kids. They don’t get that with the current breakfast program.

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