Governor Ned Lamont and Education Commissioner Charlene Russell-Tucker have announced plans to expand Connecticut’s free school meals program for the 2023-2024 school year. Under the plan, $16 million the state received from the American Rescue Plan Act will be invested into the program, enabling more students to receive access to nutritious breakfast and lunch at no cost to them or their families.
“This is a significant win for students,” says Joslyn DeLancey, vice president of CEA and president of CEA’s Connecticut Education Foundation, which provides assistance to children in need. “Teachers reach into their pockets to buy meals for students from the neediest to the most affluent districts. We all know that a child who’s constantly having to worry about the next meal has tremendous difficulty concentrating and learning. This program ensures that our students have access to both food and learning, which is a step forward in having equitable experiences for all children in Connecticut classrooms.”
All students in non-Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools participating in the federal School Breakfast Program (SBP) will be able to receive breakfast meals at no cost, including day students within residential childcare institutions. Approximately 114 districts participating in the SBP qualify to receive this funding, serving an estimated 177,243 eligible students.
Students eligible for reduced-price meals in non-CEP schools participating in the federal National School Lunch Program (NSLP) will be able to receive lunch at no cost, including day students within residential childcare settings. Approximately 128 districts participating in the NSLP are eligible to receive this funding, serving an estimated 13,197 eligible students.
The investment results from collaborative advocacy between the Governor’s Office, the Connecticut State Department of Education, legislative leaders, and strategic school nutrition partners.
“This investment ensures that each student begins their day with a nourishing meal, fostering learning and growth,” Governor Lamont said earlier this week. “Additionally, removing the family portion of the cost of lunch for students eligible for reduced-price meals means more money in their pockets for other essential needs. By ensuring access to nutritious meals, we empower our students to excel academically and in all facets of life.”
“I commend Governor Lamont and our legislative leaders for placing priority on the continuation of free breakfast and school-lunch subsidies for Connecticut’s students,” Commissioner Russell-Tucker said. “Student health status, including physical health and student achievement, are directly connected. The research clearly shows that eating a nutritious and well-balanced breakfast improves concentration, alertness, and comprehension; results in fewer mistakes; assists with faster completion of math problems; results in better performance on standardized tests; and improves speed and memory on cognitive tests.”