The Gridley Unified School District Board of Education heard Wednesday night about a new program that will enable the district to provide free breakfast and lunch to every student regardless of income.

Scott McMillan, the Gridley district’s food service director, told the board about the Community Eligibility Provision program (CEP).

McMillan said the state has changed how students can become eligible for free or reduced meals, which has increased the number of eligible students.

The program provides a number of benefits, according to the USDA, which administers it.

For students, it eliminates the stigma of having to show a free/reduced lunch card and means less time waiting in line, which translates to more time to eat.

For parents, it eliminates the need to fill out an application and eliminates worries about the balance in school meal accounts.

For school staff, it means streamlined food service operations and more time for students to eat.

And for school administrators, it can lead to decreased paperwork and administrative costs, improved program integrity and more nourished students ready to learn and grow.

But for McMillan, the main benefit of the program is simple.

“This will allow us to feed every student in the district,” Mc Millan told the board.

No board action was required Wednesday night. McMillan told the board he was submitting the application for the 2018-19 school year on Thursday.

In other business at Wednesday night’s meeting, the board authorized the use of grant funding to buy a new van for the district’s CTE programs and approved the 2018-19 work calendar for classified staff.

The program was authorized by Congress as part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. It was phased in over three years, with the District of Columbia, Illinois, Kentucky, Michigan. New York, Ohio, West Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland and Massachusetts the initial states participating. It was rolled out nationwide July 1, 2014.