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City to Provide Free Lunch to All Students Under Federal Law

City to Provide Free Lunch to All Students Under Federal Law

In Baltimore, MD, students across all income levels will be provided with free breakfast and lunch, offering balanced and nutritious meals to all children in the district and eliminating the stigma tied to "free lunch."

"Baltimore is among a handful of districts in Maryland taking advantage of the opportunity that was opened to schools nationwide last year. Maryland schools are able to adopt the program under state legislation passed this year in the General Assembly," according to the Baltimore Sun.

In Baltimore, 84% of its students already qualified for free lunch but some 13,000 students were paying $3 for theirs.

"[Del. and chief sponsor of the legislation Keith] Haynes pointed out that not only does the option, called 'community eligibility,' eliminate a stigma that students can feel if they qualify for free lunch, but it also eliminates barriers for students, such as those who are homeless and can't get paperwork in, who never have the chance to qualify," the article said.

Many educators throughout Baltimore admit they have seen students sharing lunches when they couldn't afford to buy their own and are happy this new legislation will provide for all.

One principal in the district said "the stakes of an empty stomach — research shows hungry students are at a great disadvantage in the classroom — are even higher as city students enter an era of more rigorous lessons under the Common Core standards."

The move is considered by some to be overdue, as just two years ago Baltimore raised its lunch prices to be the highest in the nation despite having the option to opt into the free lunch program then.

"Michael J. Wilson, director of Maryland Hunger Solutions, said his group is thrilled the city is now participating. 'This is exactly what the program was meant to do,' said Wilson, who led the charge to bring community eligibility to Maryland."

Read the full article here and comment below.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor

06/04/2015

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