This year, Boston Public Schools (BPS) will make free lunch and breakfast meals available to all students regardless of their income status.
Over the summer, BPS and the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education joined the “Community Eligibility Option,” a national program that waives meal fees for all children and, in return, gives participating cities federal reimbursements. The program, part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, is currently available in 10 states and the District of Columbia, and it is being implemented in other cities including Atlanta, New York City, and Detroit. Boston will be the largest city to have the program.
Seventy-eight percent of BPS students already qualify for free or reduced-price meals because of their income status, and many who do not qualify fall just beyond the income limits. Previously, families had to complete paperwork to qualify. With the Community Eligibility Option, all children will receive free breakfast and lunch without having to turn in forms, and families will save around $405 to $455 per child per year.
BPS Interim Superintendent John McDonough said in a statement, “Children can focus on learning when they are well-fed, and families can focus on education when they don’t have to budget for school meals every week.”
Mayor Thomas M. Menino also said, “Every child has a right to healthy, nutritious meals in school, and when we saw a chance to offer these healthy meals at no cost to them, we jumped at the chance. This takes the burden of proof off our low-income families and allows all children, regardless of income, to know healthy meals are waiting for them at school every day.”
Media Resources: Think Progress 9/4/2013; Boston Public Schools 9/3/2013