Extension of the federal free meals program
HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) – Help for Connecticut families will stay in place a little longer.
The federal program offering free meals for children during the summer has been extended.
These meal waivers were set to expire on Thursday.
Congress passed the Keep Kids Fed Act just days ago.
Proponents say the extra support is much needed amid inflation.
Chicken, rice, green beans and fruit are on the menu today at Weaver High School.
The Hartford School serves breakfast and lunch to needy students during the summer months.
Nutritious meals are made possible with the help of federal dollars.
“We are grateful for this additional funding. It was very scary to think about what we were going to do next year and this is really going to help us close that gap,” said Yolanda Burt, Senior Director of Child Food and Nutrition Services at Public Schools of Hartford.
At the height of the pandemic, Congress passed measures increasing school lunch reimbursement rates.
The funding was due to expire on June 30, but has now been extended through the summer and into next school year.
“We had a very short window to see if we got that money because it will determine how we serve and what we serve,” said Erin Perpetua, incoming president of the School Nutrition Association of Connecticut.
Perpetua says money is essential.
“Without this money, the quality of our food would decline. We don’t want to have to serve ultra-processed chicken nuggets,” Erin said.
Last year in Connecticut, 25 million meals were served to students with $75 million in federal funding at 400 sites.
“Very hard to study on an empty stomach. It’s very hard to study and absorb anything and learn when your stomach is rumbling when you’re really hungry,” said Senator Richard Blumenthal.
The Keep Kids Fed Act will help feed 220,000 Connecticut children as food prices continue to rise during inflation.
“Students with access to nutritious meals perform better on tests, have better attendance and are less referred to the school nurse,” said Dr. Madeline Negron, director of studies at Hartford Public Schools.
The funding will remain in place until September 30.
Some low-income families may need to reapply for these refunds.
For more information, visit ctsummermeals.org, call 211 or text FOOD to 304304.
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