Following the news since 1972

The North Star

Following the news since 1972

The North Star

Following the news since 1972

The North Star

Too cool for free food?

If too few of students use the food, North will lose the federal funds
Too+cool+for+free+food%3F

During the peak COVID years, the federal government put into place the Community Eligibility Program (CEP). CEP is a free food program for schools with a high percentage of students in lower-income families. All of the schools in the Oshkosh Area School District met the requirements, all except Oshkosh West. Oshkosh North has had free breakfast and lunch for about three years.
What some students don’t know is that if we don’t meet a certain quota, we will no longer have free food.
“We would love to see 70% participation at any of our schools,” said Nicole Howard, a member of the district food services. “For the month of September, North had an average participation level of 42.85% for breakfast and 54.84% for lunch. We have seen a large increase in the number of students participating in the breakfast and lunch program this year, compared to last year. We were not in jeopardy of losing the program last year. However the more students we have participating, the more funding we receive to put back into the breakfast and lunch program.”
In an effort to ensure the school meets the quota, administration and food services decided to have multiple distribution areas.
Previously the grab-and-go meals were stationed at either end of the school by Door 1 and Door 7. This year, students can find them in those same locations as well as in the media center and by the counseling department.
Although the food is widely available, most students hesitate to grab them.
“I don’t take the free food. The most I’ll do is grab milk,” sophomore Shylee Yenter said. “I don’t take the free food because people assume that if I’m taking it, I’m struggling. And not that there’s anything wrong with struggling; I just don’t want to be seen like that. I also bring my own food from home.”
Other students, though, find it helpful since they may not always have time or the resources to eat at home.
“I take the free food, and honestly I’m happy that we have it,” said senior Eva Miller. “I grew up in an environment where we didn’t know what we were going to eat that night. We didn’t know you had to pay for lunch. We were in a program for lower income families.”
As a way to alleviate the perceived stigma of taking school-provided food, staff members have begun bringing it to their classrooms.
“I always grab a bunch of the breakfasts,” said social studies teacher Sara Samples. “Most kids don’t think to grab breakfast, then they are hungry and don’t focus as well. It’s also a good snack for my later classes, a lot of students aren’t used to having lunch at 12:30, so having the food right in the room is easier for them to take.”
Counseling, too, has a table with a bowl filled with free breakfast snacks.
“I always make sure to have over 50 breakfasts down here,” said Jenni Johnson, the office tech in guidance. “Our food bucket is stationed around the corner. Our goal was to make it a little more private for the kids. I’ve had a few students tell us that they’re embarrassed to take advantage of the food. Everyone here gets free food, everybody should be able to go to school and not have to worry about being hungry.”
The staff has been very proactive with trying to spread the word about CEP food. Though the staff has figured out a system, what can the students do to help?
“The biggest thing that students can do to actively help the program would be to participate in breakfast and lunch everyday. Every meal that is taken helps us increase funding to support the program and keep meals free for everyone,” said Howard.

Story continues below advertisement
Leave a Comment
More to Discover
About the Contributor
Drea Miller, Social Media Manager
Class of '24, STUCO Vice President, North Star Social Media Manager, Yearbook Photo Editor <3

Comments (0)

All The North Star Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *