Vermont becomes first state to provide low-income students with free meals

Students who qualify for reduced-price meals will receive free breakfast and lunch during the school day.

Sept. 5—With the school year just underway, Gov. Peter Shumlin and Education Secretary Armando Vilaseca today visited Barre Town Elementary School to herald a new law making Vermont the first state in the nation to provide school meals –breakfast and lunch — at no charge for all students qualifying for the federal reduced-price meals program.

“We all know that hungry children can’t learn,” said Gov. Shumlin, who was joined by advocates committed to the battle against childhood hunger. “Vermont is the first state to ensure that all children have access to good food, and therefore a better education.”

Previously, children whose families earned over 130 percent of the federal poverty level (roughly $30,620 for a family of four) were ineligible for free school meals. The new law means that 37,000 children are now able to have breakfast and lunch at no charge during the school day.