EATEL partners with Ascension Parish Public Schools on meal program

Staff Report

Ascension Parish Public Schools and EATEL partnered to increase applications for the national free and reduced meals program. 

Ascension Public Schools Child Nutrition Supervisor Leuna Johnson, left, receives ten Chromebooks donated by EATEL Community Relations and Business Development Manager Monika Arnold and Community Relations and Business Development Director Jeremy Theriot.

In addition to eligibility determinations for school meal programs, these applications are used to determine funding levels for the school district for many state and federal sources, according to an EATEL release.

The company donated 10 Chromebooks for giveaways as an incentive for parents to complete the application. 

Over a two-week period, the Chromebook giveaway incentive yielded applications for 1,115 students. Those additional applications translate into about $150,000 in state funding for Ascension Public Schools.

“We are so fortunate to have outstanding community partners like EATEL, who support our school district in various ways,” Ascension Public Schools Superintendent David Alexander said. “This is just one example of their willingness to find creative solutions to engage our community in a meaningful way, and the ultimate beneficiary is the students of Ascension Parish.”

 “The meal benefits application is the foundation of all Child Nutrition Programs but it affects so much more,” Ascension Public Schools Child Nutrition Supervisor Leuna Johnson said. “It has the potential to qualify our school district and students with the assistance they may not have otherwise been eligible.”

Historically, parents were required to complete a free and reduced meal application in order for their child to receive free or discounted school meals. 

However, all students at Ascension Public Schools currently receive free meals due to a program through the U.S. Department of Agriculture during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A byproduct of this program is parents do not feel a need to complete this annual application which is used to calculate district funding from several state and federal sources.

 “Ascension Public Schools’ leadership have always kept student achievement top of mind and their ability to be agile and support students and parents where they are is an enduring quality we continue to admire,” said Monika Arnold, Community Relations and Business Development Manager for EATEL. “When the school system's Child Nutrition leadership floated an idea to leverage tech tools in the hope of driving applications for their very necessary services, we were happy to jump on board; connecting education and technology once again in Ascension Parish.”

The names of 10 winners of the Chromebooks were drawn from all of the applications submitted during the 2020-21 school year. Those winners, whose names are being kept private due to the nature of the application, were contacted and have received their devices.