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Virginia Department of Education records show eight Hampton Roads school divisions enrolled all their schools in a federal program that gives students free breakfasts and lunches. 

Norfolk is the latest school system to confirm its continued participation. All of the city’s public schools will participate. 

According to the Virginia Poverty Law Center, this Community Eligibility Provision reduces the stigma for children from low-income families by not singling them out to receive free meals.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture funds the program and students don’t have to submit an application to receive the meals.

Almost all Hampton Roads school divisions rely on the program to provide food for their students to some extent.

In addition to the divisions adopting the program at all schools, five more divisions, including Virginia Beach and Chesapeake, enrolled some of their schools. 

State records don’t show Mathews County’s enrollment, because it signed up after officials posted their annual data.

Participating schools provide these meals to every student, regardless of income. However, to qualify for the program, 40% of students in the school must be eligible for food assistance. 

York and Poquoson, the only Hampton Roads divisions not in the program, have less than 20% of students eligible for food assistance.

Note: Twenty-one school divisions in Hampton Roads comprise the Hampton Roads Education Telecommunications Association, which holds WHRO’s license. WHRO journalists accessed data for those districts for this story.