Springfield Schools Test New Expanded Free Meal Program

As Massachusetts students return to the classroom, education officials are looking to increase the number of schools providing free meals using a federal program.

About a third of all of children enrolled in Massachusetts’ public schools are eligible for free or reduced-priced meals. This program lets schools hand out meals to all students, regardless of need, with the federal and state governments picking up the tab. Springfield is trying out the program this year on a test basis, serving free meals to all its 26,000 students. District spokesperson Azell Cavaan says that alleviates the administrative burden of collecting individual paper applications.

“Last year and for several years before that, breakfast has been available at no charge for all of our students. And now through this program, we’re able to make the offer of a free lunch available to all of our students,” says Cavaan.

As of the end of August, only seven Massachusetts school districts, including Boston and Fitchburg, had fully implemented free meals district-wide. Springfield will decide whether to continue with its program at the end of the school year.