Citrus Valley High School provides free meals for all of their students


“Free food!” Citrus Valley High School administration called out. Citrus Valley students of every background flocked to the quad and cafeteria to claim this free food. For the first time in its school history, all Citrus Valley students have the opportunity to eat on campus for free. 

Students can eat up to four times a day for free. They can eat breakfast, lunch and two snacks, during break and after school.

In the past, students could apply to see if their family qualified for free or reduced lunch based on their annual income. Now, every Citrus Valley student has the opportunity to eat for free, regardless of income.

The free lunch program is more formally known as the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

Citrus Valley is the only comprehensive high school in the Redlands Unified School District to have the CEP, but Orangewood High School and several other elementary and middle schools have this program as well. 

Schools qualify for this program if they previously had a high concentration of students who qualified for the free and reduced lunch program. Citrus Valley had a 55% concentration of students who previously qualified for free and reduced lunch, making it one of the only schools in the district to be a part of the CEP.

According to the USDA Food and Nutrition Service, the National School Lunch Program has been providing free meals to students since the passing of the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act in 1946 under President Harry Truman. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the California Department of Education (CDE) fund the program. 

“This could not have been done without Child Nutrition Services Director Betty Crocker,” said Citrus Valley Principal Rhonda Bruce. The Child Nutrition Services Department team attended the CDE training in Riverside last year. From there, they submitted all the necessary paperwork and finally gained approval from the CDE division in Sacramento. 

Bruce loves how every student has the opportunity to eat free breakfast in the morning. Bruce said, “I love the program.”

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