FCPS will still provide free meals to students at 34 schools this year

McNair Elementary School students pick up lunch on their first day of school for the 2021-2022 academic year (via FCPS)

While free school lunches ended nationally earlier this summer, Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) will still offer free meals to students at a select number of schools.

Earlier this month, FCPS announced that it will participate in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), which distributes breakfast and lunch to students attending schools in low-income areas at no cost.

No application or individual eligibility requirements are needed from students to receive the free meals.

There will be 34 county schools in the program for the upcoming 2022-2023 school year. That includes two high schools (Annandale and Justice), three middle schools (Glasgow near Holmes Run, Key in Springfield, and Annandale’s Poe), and 29 elementary schools.

Every student who attends one of the participating schools should receive communication about CEP, FCPS’s website notes.

CEP was first implemented in 2010 as part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and went nationwide starting in 2014. There are a host of eligibility requirements, but if a school meets those, then every student can get free breakfast and lunch.

July 1 marked the end of more than two years of the federal government allowing free school lunches to all students, including those at FCPS. The school system saw a surge in demand for cafeteria food last year, serving 28,000 more students per day than before the pandemic.

Students who do not attend one of the eligible schools but are still in need can apply for free or reduced-price meals.

“Children from households whose income is at or below the Federal Income Eligibility Guidelines… may be eligible for either free or reduced-price meals,” the webpage says.

Children who already receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits may already be automatically eligible as well as those students that are homeless, in a foster home, and migrants.

As of October 31, 2021, about 31% of FCPS students qualified for free and reduced-price meals.

The cost of school meals will be the same as pre-pandemic times, FCPS said in an Aug. 12 newsletter, with breakfast priced at $1.75 for all students. Lunch is $3.25 for elementary students and $3.50 for middle, secondary, and high school students.

FFXnow asked FCPS about how many applications have been submitted for free and reduced lunches for the new school year — which begins Monday (Aug. 22) — and how that number compares to years past. FFXnow also inquired for further information on the CEP program.

Despite being given about a week to respond, FCPS declined to provide any answers or clarifications, saying they have a “new media process in place” that is delaying responses.

Here are all the county schools participating in CEP this upcoming school year:

  • Annandale High
  • Annandale Terrace Elementary
  • Bailey’s Elementary
  • Bailey’s Upper Elementary
  • Beech Tree Elementary
  • Braddock Elementary
  • Brookfield Elementary
  • Cameron Elementary
  • Crestwood Elementary
  • Dogwood Elementary
  • Forest Edge Elementary
  • Forestdale Elementary
  • Garfield Elementary
  • Glasgow Middle
  • Glen Forest Elementary
  • Graham Road Elementary
  • Groveton Elementary
  • Hollins Meadows Elementary
  • Hutchison Elementary
  • Hybla Valley Elementary
  • Justice High
  • Key Middle
  • Lynbrook Elementary
  • Mt. Eagle Elementary
  • Mt. Vernon Woods Elementary
  • Parklawn Elementary
  • Pine Spring Elementary
  • Poe Middle
  • Riverside Elementary
  • Sleepy Hollow Elementary
  • Washington Mill Elementary
  • Weyanoke Elementary
  • Woodlawn Elementary
  • Woodley Hills Elementary