Thousands of children get reduced or free meals in Mass schools

In Massachusetts, 1 in 7 children live in families at risk of hunger because they’re not able to afford enough food.

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) helps to provide free and reduced meals in over 100,000 public and nonprofit private schools and residential child care facilities.The meals program is one of several administered by the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Food Nutrition Service.

There are 435,895 students receiving reduced or free breakfasts and lunches in public schools across the Commonwealth, according to information 22News received from the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. In Massachusetts, 1 in 7 children live in families at risk of hunger because they’re not able to afford enough food. Statewide, 44% of students enrolled in public schools qualify for free or reduced meals.

Most of the support the USDA provides to schools in the NSLP comes in the form of a cash reimbursement for each meal served.

Children’s HealthWatch recently released their Massachusetts School Breakfast Report CardThe study ranked 33 high-poverty school districts across the state on their level of school breakfast participation. In Springfield (4th), Greenfield (5th), Chicopee (10th) and Holyoke (11th), half or more of the student body eats school breakfast. In North Adams (17th), Orange (25th), Pittsfield (28th), Gill-Montague (29th), Ware (30th), and West Springfield (31st), fewer than half of all students are eating breakfast, despite the high need in those communities.

Massachusetts school lunch breakdown by school district (charter schools and vocational schools are their own districts and are listed as such).   January free and reduced price counts by public district- january 2017