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For Immediate Release
Wednesday, August 26, 1998
Contact:John Costello

Free and Reduced-Price Meals Available to Students in Schools and Child Care Centers

Malden - Massachusetts Education Commissioner David P. Driscoll announced today that parents who cannot afford to pay the full price for breakfast, lunch or milk served at their children's school or child care center should apply locally immediately for free or reduced-price meals.

Most public and private schools, day care and child care centers offer free and reduced-price meals for eligible children, and parents or foster parents should check with their local school or day care provider to see if the program is offered.

Last school year in Massachusetts, more than 32 million free lunches and close to 5 million reduced price meals were served. These figures represent an increase of more than 1 million free and reduced-price lunches over the prior school year. The daily average participation in the free and reduced-price lunch program was approximately 209,500 children. In addition, nearly 14.6 million free breakfasts and over 645,000 reduced-price breakfasts were served last year, to an average of approximately 83,700 children per day.

"Research shows that good nutrition improves student performance at school," said Commissioner Driscoll. "The daily free and reduced-price meals program is important for children and their parents."

The federal government uses the household size and income level to determine eligibility for free and reduced-price meals and free milk. Children are eligible if they live in households whose income is at or below the levels shown in the attached chart. Foster children who are the legal responsibility of a welfare agency or court may also be eligible for benefits regardless of the income of the household in which they reside. Eligibility for a foster child is based on the child's income.

Schools and child care programs will verify the children in their care who qualify for free meals. Parents and foster parents receiving direct certification cards should sign the card and return it to the program where the child receives meals.

Households who do not receive a mailing may still qualify. Application forms are available at the office in each school or day care center. Information provided on the applications will only be used for the purpose of determining eligibility.

For more information on nutrition programs in Massachusetts schools and child care centers, please contact the Department of Education at 781-338-3000 or visit the Department's web site at

Last Updated: August 26, 1998
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