Connecticut expands free school meal access

The state is using $16 million to offer free meals to students at non-Community Eligibility Provision schools.
A student grabs a piece of fruit
Connecticut is broadening free meal access for select students. | Photo: Shutterstock

More students in Connecticut can expect to receive free meals at school this year. 

Gov. Ned Lamont announced that $16 million of the funds the state received from the American Rescue Plan Act will go toward expanding free school meal access this fall.

With the new funding, students who attend non-Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools will receive free breakfast, and students who attend non-CEP schools and are eligible for reduced-price meals will receive free lunch. 

Altogether, an estimated 190,440 additional students will now receive at least one free meal daily. 

“This investment ensures that each student begins their day with a nourishing meal, fostering learning and growth,” Gov. Lamont said in a statement. “Additionally, removing the family portion of the cost of lunch for students eligible for reduced-price meals means more money in their pockets for other essential needs. By ensuring access to nutritious meals, we empower our students to excel academically and in all facets of life.”

The state is one of a handful expanding free meal access for students after the expiration of the pandemic-era waivers that allowed schools across the country to feed all kids for free. Louisiana and Texas, for example, have increased access to free meals for students who qualify for reduced-price ones. 

The return to charging for meals has caused some headaches for school nutrition operators. A recent survey by the U.S. Department of Agriculture showed that almost half (47%) of respondents faced confusion from parents and guardians related to meal service, payment and operations this past school year. Forty-two percent also said that meal debt was a challenge. 

See which states currently offer universal free meals via the map below:



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