Free school meals rejected as Manchester board bucks federal program
Under the Community Eligibility Provision, part of the larger overhaul of the federal school nutrition program enacted by the Obama administration in 2010, none of the students at schools where at least 40 percent of the children were deemed low-income would have to pay for the meals.
District Food Services Director Jim Connors told the board that a cluster of five elementary schools would likely be eligible for the program: Beech Street, McDonough, Wilson, Gossler Park and Bakersville.
Mayor Ted Gatsas was supportive of pursuing the program.
“There are kids that may not qualify for free or reduced lunch that go hungry,” he said.
“We keep saying we’re not going to pay for it,” Ward 6 board member Robyn Dunphy said. “But it’s another entitlement program.”
“I don’t want to be locked into federal guidelines that really have destroyed the school lunch program in my mind,” he said. “I want to see us go in the other direction, away from government control.”
“It’s ensuring that every student can have breakfast, and they don’t have to fill out forms ... they can just grab it. But there is a risk,” she said, referring to the potential drop in revenue.
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