By News-Register staff • 

Returning students will find free meals

The biggest change, though, will be in the school food service program. Breakfast and lunch will be served to all students free of charge.

McMinnville and Willamina both were approved to pilot the federal Community Eligibility Provision. CEP reimburses qualifying high-poverty school districts that provide free meals to all students. 

Families don't need to apply for the free school meals. Children automatically qualify, no questions asked.

Students can bring lunches from home if they like, but they don't need to, school officials said.

McMinnville Superintendent Maryalice Russell said her district applied to pilot the program because of its educational value.

"Having their hunger satisfied improves performance in the classroom," she said when the program was announced this summer. "Students learn better on a full stomach than an empty one. It's hard to think about math or reading when your tummy's empty."

With school starting today, McMinnville police are reminding drivers to use extra caution in school zones and on routes near schools, especially in the period before and after school.

Expect traffic congestion, they warn. And watch for youngsters walking or riding bikes.

"All drivers and pedestrians share responsibility for making our roadways safe through our awareness, demeanor and choices," police said. "We encourage each and every user, whether a driver or a pedestrian, to be alert and make safe decisions."

Police asked parents to talk with their children about the importance of crossing streets only in designated crosswalks. Parents also should remind children to look both ways before crossing.

Drivers should remember not to pass a school bus with flashing red lights. Traffic in both lanes of traffic needs to yield to a school bus.

For more information, call your neighborhood school, the school district office at 503-565-4000 or the police department at 503-434-7307.

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