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Proposal provides no-cost school meals at every public school in Connecticut

Children collect their free meal at East Silver Spring Elementary School.
Manuel Balce Ceneta
Children collect their free meal at East Silver Spring Elementary School.

Connecticut school officials are concerned that students are going hungry following the end of a federal pandemic program that made free school meals possible for all. The program gave $30 million to school districts in the state but ended last fall.

“I’m frustrated that I have students in every school that are going hungry every day now. I’m frustrated that when I talk with parents who just want to feed their children that there’s nothing I can do to help them,” said Jen Bove, the nutritionist at East Hampton Public Schools.

Bove is a member of the School Nutrition Association of CT and she is on the coalition for Healthy School Meals 4all CT.

“When a child is hungry, the life of the legislature should stop as well because these are Connecticut children, and they are our children,” said state Senator Saud Anwar, co-chair of the Public Health Committee and vice chair of the Children’s Committee. He supports appropriating millions of dollars to continue the program.

Anwar added that democratic legislative leaders are working with Governor Ned Lamont to use an emergency certification and appropriate money to continue the program.

Lawmakers are also working on legislation that would provide a long-term free school meal program for all. Their hope is to act on it before the end of the legislative session in June.

As WSHU Public Radio’s award-winning senior political reporter, Ebong Udoma draws on his extensive tenure to delve deep into state politics during a major election year.