Baltimore schools offer free lunch to all students

Baltimore City Public Schools now offers free breakfast and lunch to all of its 84,000 students, regardless of family income.

To expand food service, the district took advantage of funding through the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act’s Community Eligibility Provision, a federal program that launched in 2011 allowing schools with high poverty rates to replace traditional, tiered-price meal programs. Before engaging CEP, 84 percent of Baltimore’s public school students received free or reduced-price lunch.

For many students, they will eat more healthy than what they have at home, says Gregory Thornton, CEO of Baltimore schools. “This creates an opportunity for us to actually begin to change lifetime eating habits with respect to fresh fruits and vegetables,” he says. “For many of our families, that’s just one less thing they have to contend with because they know when their child arrives at school, they’re going to get a healthy breakfast and a healthy lunch, and that’s the core of a really strong instructional day.”

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