Sullivan to have nine universal free meal schools for 2019-20

Rick Wagner • Jun 9, 2019 at 3:00 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Seven more Sullivan County schools will get universal free meals for the 2019-20 school year, joining two schools already in the program and others in adjoining school districts

However, one Sullivan school board member voted not to expand participation in the program of the federal government.


The board voted 6-1 to approve the additions to the Community Eligibility Provision program, a federally funded program. Member Jane Thomas voted against the additions to the CEP, which is already at Ketron and Emmett elementary schools. She could not be reached for comment Friday.

The program, reviewed at the May 30 work session, is based on percentages of directly certified students, whose families get food stamps or other federal assistance, and will be expanding to Blountville Elementary, Blountville Middle, Bluff City Elementary, Central Heights Elementary, Sullivan Gardens K-8, Sullivan North High and Sullivan North Middle, which are co-located.

“I’m glad that we’ve been able to add some schools, particularly those we’ve been able to add back,” retiring Director of Schools Evelyn Rafalowski said at the work session. A change in 2016 in the program took away other indirect certification methods to get a school eligible for CEP. Schools in neighboring Kingsport and Hawkins County are also in the CEP program. In addition, as part of another federal program called Universal Breakfast, Holston Valley Middle School gets universal free breakfasts.


In Kingsport City Schools, Supervisor of School Nutrition Services Jennifer Walker said that the KCS schools in the program for 2019-20 are the same as the current year: Jackson, Johnson, Kennedy, Lincoln and Roosevelt elementaries and Sevier Middle. She said they will be re-evaluated for the 2020-21 year based on a three-year cycle.

“The great thing about this program is no one has to charge any meals, so we don’t have the student debt for meals,” Walker said Friday.

In Hawkins, CEP schools approved at a school board meeting Thursday are Rogersville Middle, Church Hill Intermediate and Church Hill Middle for breakfast only and Bulls Gap (K-8) Clinch (K-12) and Carter’s Valley, Hawkins, Joseph Rogers, Keplar, McPheeter’s Bend and St. Clair elementaries. 


Amber Anderson, school nutrition supervisor for Sullivan County Schools, at the May 30 work session said the seven new county schools will begin a three-year cycle this coming school year and the two existing ones will be reconsidered for 2020-21.

“It doesn’t take away from instructional time. For us, it can help us increase our reimbursement,” Anderson said. She said that is because of an overall increase in participation.

For 2017-18, the CEP-eligible schools in Sullivan fell to only Ketron and Emmett. Those taken out of the program in July 2017 by a school board vote were Blountville Elementary, Blountville Middle, Central Heights Elementary and North Middle school. The closure of Weaver Elementary for structural issues prompted the re-evaluation of the whole system, Anderson said at the time, because the schools were grouped together. Anderson said now each school participates separately.

When Sullivan East Middle opens, set for January 2020, she said it would be eligible to be added if its directly certified students were a large enough group. None of the schools merging into it, Bluff City Middle, Holston Valley Middle and the middle portion of Mary Hughes, are CEP schools.




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