Nutritional Development Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia is rolling out a new program that will make it easier for families to access free meals for their children at school.

The Community Eligibility Provision will allow schools with high percentages of qualifying students to provide free breakfast and lunch to all children in the school.

Included in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, community eligibility eliminates the need for families to fill out paper applications for school meals. Since school year 2011-2012, the program has been piloted in 11 states and will be operational in all 50 states this school year.

Fifty-nine schools who participate in the school meals program under NDS’ sponsorship have been approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Education to use the provision, including St. Peter the Apostle School.

“Community Eligibility is a wonderful opportunity for the families of St. Peter the Apostle School,” said its principal, Sister Rosalia Federici, S.S.N.D. “It truly meets the needs of our community. God takes care of our needs.”

In schools across the country that have adopted community eligibility, more children are eating breakfast and lunch each day. Studies show that children who eat a healthy breakfast and lunch at school are better able to concentrate and learn better.

“NDS staff is looking forward to the opportunity to provide breakfast and lunch to all children in our eligible schools,” said NDS Director Lorraine Knight. “By having access to these meals, we feel children will be more attentive in class and more motivated to learn. Since all children will be able to enjoy the same meal, the children will have the enjoyment of a shared experience at meal time.”

In fiscal year 2013, over 3.3 million meals were served with an average of 29,838 breakfasts and lunches served each school day.

For more information, contact Anne H. Ayella at 267-262-8901.