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Hartford Public Schools Students To Get Free Meals

Hartford Public Schools

Every student in Hartford Public Schools will be eating free breakfast and lunch in their cafeterias beginning this week because of a free, federal meal program that Connecticut started participating in last year. Under the program, schools where more than 40 percent of students' families qualify for food stamps get funding to offer free meals to all students.

Lonnie Burt, chief of nutrition for the Hartford school district, said under the new federal program, students don’t have to apply for free or reduced price meals like they had to before. She said the new program makes it easier to get meals to students who might have had applications rejected in the past.

"Those are probably the hardest cases that there are- families that just don’t meet those federal guidelines but miss them by very small amounts. It can be 10 dollars sometimes. And it makes a huge difference to them. And to think that they have no worries about receiving breakfast or lunch, and to help stretch their family dollars…for their food, I think is a really positive impact all the way around," Burt said.

Burt said Hartford is now one of four districts in the state that offer free meals to all of their students at all of their schools. The other school districts are Waterbury, New London, and New Haven.

The Connecticut Department of Education says other school districts around the state have until the end of the month to apply for the program.

Cassandra Basler, a former senior editor at WSHU, came to the station by way of Columbia Journalism School in New York City. When she's not reporting on wealth and poverty, she's writing about food and family.