Hartford schools to provide free meals for all students

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HARTFORD–All students will begin getting free meals at all Hartford public schools.

The new program will offer free breakfast and lunch to all students, every school day, regardless of the student’s family income.

Tuesday, August 25 marks the first day of school in the capital city, and the launch of the new program.

The program was made possible through a Community Eligibility Provision regulatory change for school districts in high-poverty neighborhoods that are part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs.

“I’m thrilled,” said Superintendent Beth Schiavino-Narvaez on the district’s website. “We know kids can’t focus on learning if they are hungry. Now we can ensure that all of our students will get nutritious meals without the burden of paperwork and eligibility requirements, which sometimes get in the way of students accessing school meal programs.”

Last year 35 schools in the district were eligible for the CEP program, but now the 13 magnet schools in the city will be eligible as well.

“CEP eliminates the need to collect funds and worry about what to do on those many occasions when a student doesn’t have enough money for a meal, but doesn’t qualify for a free meal,” said Lonnie Burt, the district’s director of Food and Child Nutritional Services. “It allows our food services staff to concentrate on what’s important – nutrition!”