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CT will expand its free school meals program this academic year

While meeting with students at House of Restoration in Hartford, Charlene Russell-Tucker, state education commissioner said, “We want families to know that these programs are available to them. They can go on the tracker, go on their cell phones, [and] find locations across the state where meals are provided.”
Kelsey Goldbach
/
Connecticut Public
FILE, 2023: While meeting with students at House of Restoration in Hartford, Charlene Russell-Tucker, state education commissioner said, “We want families to know that these programs are available to them. They can go on the tracker, go on their cell phones, [and] find locations across the state where meals are provided.”

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The state of Connecticut plans to use federal money to expand its free school meals program for the 2023-24 school year, allowing thousands of students access to free lunch and breakfast.

The state will use $16 million in federal pandemic funding to pay for the program, Democratic Gov. Ned Lamont said Monday.

A family with three children already eligible for reduced-price breakfast and lunch could save almost $400 over the school year, State Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker said.

"Every student deserves access to wholesome and nutritious meals. Because, ultimately, there is no curriculum brilliant enough to compensate for a hungry stomach or a distracted mind," Russell-Tucker said.

Nearly 180,000 children will be eligible for free breakfasts and more than 13,000 students will be able to get free lunches through these changes, according to Lamont's office.

But some advocates want the state to go further. They want free meals for all students, as a way to reduce stigma for children from low-income families who qualify for free meals.

Connecticut Public's Patrick Skahill contributed to this report.

Matt Dwyer is an editor, reporter and midday host for Connecticut Public's news department. He produces local news during All Things Considered.
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