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Boston Public Schools offers free meals to all students - Mass Kids Count Blog and Local School Data

The following information is from the Mass Kids Count blog post:  For Massachusetts data on free and reduced price lunch enrollment rates for the state and by school district, click here.

As the Boston Globe reported yesterday morning, Boston public schools will begin serving free lunches to all students this school year.  The city will be taking advantage of a new program the federal government has created as an option for states to expand access to free meals. This program, called Community Eligibility, allows schools or districts to provide free meals to all students if more than 40% of students are directly certified as eligible. Direct certification allows students living in households that receive SNAP or TAFDC cash assistance for any children in that household to be automatically enrolled in school meals programs, rather than having to fill out paper forms each year.

For districts with more than 62% of the students directly certified for free meals, the federal program reimburses the full cost of all meals served in the school – the reimbursement is less if fewer students are directly certified. In participating districts, more students will have access to free meals  and districts may be able to save resources now used to check individual eligibility and collect money at meals. Further, providing all students free meals without checking the income of individual students helps reduce the stigma often associated with being identified as lower-income.

More information from the Food Research Action Center on Community Eligibility is available here

This slideshow includes an analysis of school breakfast and lunch programs in Massachusetts, including a discussion and data about the community eligibility option that allows free meals for all kids in low income districts (the report summarized in this slide show was prepared by the Center for Social Policy at the UMass, the MBPC and MLRI - with support from the Eos Foundation.) 

Additional school districts may participate next school year. Districts with a high percent of direct certification for free meals will be candidates for community eligibility.  Again, to see your local school district yearly data on free and reduced price lunch enrollment rates through school year 2012, click here