School Lunch and School Breakfast Programs

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The state of Connecticut recently expanded Connecticut’s free school meals program for the 2023-2024 school year, enabling more students to receive access to breakfast and lunch at no additional cost to them or their families. The new program will be funded with $16 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA).

Program Description:

The School Lunch and Breakfast program is funded by the United States Department of Agriculture and administered in Connecticut by the State Department of Education’s Bureau of Health, Nutrition, Family Services, and Adult Education.

Free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches are served in elementary and secondary schools to enrolled students whose families meet income requirements or attend schools in particular areas.

Criteria for the free-and-reduce-price meal program differs depending on which of two types of school a student attends: a Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) school, which serves high-need districts in the state, or a non-CEP school, which is a school without such a designation.

Who is Eligible?

The following expanded eligibility measures apply beginning with the 2023-2024 school year:

How to Obtain Service: Ask at child’s school to see if the school offers this program; if so, obtain an application form from the school. Forms can be mailed to parents or sent home with the children. Parents who receive TFA or SNAP (food stamps) can put their State Assistance ID # on the form. They do not have to fill out the income section because if eligibility has been determined already for TFA or SNAP they are categorically eligible for free school meals.

Timetable: Parents/guardians can apply for free/reduced meals at any time during the school year.

Will Other Kids Know that My Child is Getting a Free Meal? All children receive the same meal and use the same eating facility regardless of what they are paying for the meals. In Connecticut it is illegal for students getting a free or reduced-price meal to be given special meal tickets, be made to use different lines or rooms, or be given a different choice of food.

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Agriculture; Connecticut Association for Human Services publication “How to Get Food in Connecticut.”