CHESHIRE, Conn. (WTNH) – School districts across Connecticut are ending their free meal programs because they’re running out of federal relief dollars. Some districts have already ended the program while others are preparing to.
“It’s going to be a great transition for a lot of families and students across the district, as well as across the state,” said Erica Biagetti.
Erica Biagetti is the Director of Food and Nutrition for Cheshire Public Schools. In Cheshire, after January 13, nearly 90 percent of their 4,100 students will pay for food.
“Now, families have to worry about school meals, where it’s something that they’re able to rely on and know that if their student is hungry and in school, that they get the meal that they need,” Biagetti said.
After federal waivers ran out in June, state leaders secured $30 million more to help 124 districts extend their programs. Now, that money is nearly gone.
“Those funds will go as far as they go in the current school year based on the number of meals that are served in those school districts,” said John Frassinelli, Connecticut Department of Education.
John Frassinelli leads school health, nutrition, and family services for Connecticut’s Department of Education and says families who have to pay for food should apply for federal food assistance known as SNAP benefits.
“Once they’re on SNAP, we will directly certify them for school meals and notify their school, and they will automatically be eligible for free school meals,” Frassinelli said.
Families are encouraged to apply for SNAP even if they think they’re not eligible or have been denied in the past. School leaders say districts are sending information to families on how to apply.
For more information on how to apply, click here.