Meriden schools announce free lunch for all students

MERIDEN --  Meriden Public Schools will expand their free breakfast and lunch program to all students in the district for the 2018-2019 school year.

Under the USDA Community Eligibilty Provision (CEP), the school district currently provides the two free meals to all students in five of their schools, but beginning in the fall of 2018 the meals will be provided to all students district-wide.

The change was recently voted in by the Meriden Board of Education.

“A hungry child can’t learn so by being able to provide breakfast and lunch to these students daily we’re helping them with their academic achievement, their attendance, and their behavior,” said Susan Maffe, Director of Food and Nutrition Services.

Maffe added the expansion of the program will also benefit parents in a community where the need for the financial break is great.

“Over 60 percent of the population in the schools are recipients of the SNAP program and over 70 percent of our students qualify for free or reduced priced meals,” Maffe said.

Heather Volpe’s daughter is in third grade at Israel Putnam Elementary School in Meriden where the free meal program is already in place.

“Knowing that you’re going to have a healthy meal provided for the children that you don’t have to worry about that you don’t have to pay for is just going to put a burden off a lot of families in the city,” Volpe said.

Parents and school administrators are also hoping the program will lift different kind of burden for students.

“There’s no more stigma as to whether or not you’re a free or reduced price child and all kids are eligible for the same meal daily,” Maffe said.

Parent Carrie Brown added, “You don’t want a little kid sitting there who’s upset or feeling shy because they don’t have the same meal as someone else or enough or they’re still hungry.”