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New England News

Vermont Expands Free School Meal Program

Beau Wade-absolutwade/Flickr

Vermont Governor Peter Shumlin and the state’s education secretary were at an elementary school Tuesday morning to launch a program that expands free school meal programs.

In 2008, Vermont became the first state to make breakfast free for all students who qualified for the reduced price program. Now, a new law in the state expands that to include school lunches. Governor Peter Shumlin and state Education Secretary Armando Vilaseca were at the Barre Elementary School this morning to highlight expansion of the law to include lunches.
Vermont Agency of Education Child Nutrition Program Director Laurie Colgan, a member of the School Nutrition Association of Vermont, explains that  many schools were having difficulty collecting money owed for meals.

The same result is anticipated with the expansion to include no-charge lunches. Colgan estimates that about 6,000 more reduced-price-eligible students will now have access to no charge lunches. That will bring to 37,000 the total number of children who are eligible to have free breakfast and lunch during the school day in Vermont schools.

Vermont School Boards Association Executive Director Stephen Dale notes that before Vermont passed its new law, data showed that if a student was in a reduced cost category, they were less likely to take advantage of the meal program.

Vermont Principals’ Association Executive Director Ken Page says for those in poverty the free meals will make a huge difference in achievement and helps their families financially.

A link for information on Vermont’s school nutrition programs is available here.