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Free lunch at Greenfield elementary schools

GREENFIELD — All students at Newton, Federal Street and the Academy of Early Learning schools will be provided a free daily lunch this school year regardless of their family income.

The free lunch program is an addition to the free breakfast program already offered at all schools.

The free lunches for about 532 students at the three elementary schools are a result of the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act.

The school lunch program under the U.S. Department of Agriculture is a federally assisted meal program in which most support comes through a cash reimbursement for each meal served. The law also increased the per meal reimbursement and set stricter nutrition standards for school districts that participate in the National School Lunch and National School Breakfast Programs.

Under the new law, the three schools qualified for free lunch for all students because more than 62.5 percent of students qualified for free lunch, according to Director of Food and Nutrition Services Bernie Novak.

Sixty-five percent of students at the Academy of Early Learning qualify. Seventy-two percent qualified at Newton, and 68 percent qualified at Federal Street School last year.

“A child can’t learn unless they’re well nourished,” said Novak.

The program makes it easier for low-income families to receive free meals with the elimination of paperwork at participating schools.

The program is designed to allow high need schools to serve free meals to all students while also alleviating the administrative burden to collect paper applications, according to the state Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. It also allows for a healthier student body and can reduce stigma because all students are eating meals at no charge, regardless of their income status.

Of the roughly 1,800 students in town’s public schools, about 60 percent of students qualify for free lunch or pay a discounted cost of 40 cents for lunch.

At Greenfield High School, 58 percent of students qualify for free lunch while 36 percent qualify at Four Corners.

At Greenfield Middle School, 60 percent of students qualify for free lunch.

Paid lunches range from $2.60 to $2.95, depending on the grade level, said Novak. The schools receive a $2.92 federal reimbursement for each free lunch, Novak said.

This is the second year for the federal program in Massachusetts, but the first in Greenfield.

You can reach Kathleen McKiernan at:


or 413-772-0261 ext. 268

On Twitter, follow @RecorderKatMcK

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