All Maine Kids Going Back to School Will Continue to Get Free Meals
As kids head back to school pictures are being taken, bus routes are being checked and some parents are rejoicing that the kids are out of the house for the day. It's the beginning of another 180 days of learning as these kids cram as much into their brains as they can.
Those brains need food for all the learning. At the start of the Covid pandemic in 2020, the federal government footed the bill for school lunches for everyone, no matter the family's income level. This school year, the federal funding has come to an end as the pandemic is now under control for the most part and the effects on family income have subsided. For Maine students, however, that benefit will continue.
According to News Center Maine, last June, Governor Janet Mills signed a law that allocates $10 million to help pay the difference for school meals after the amount of federal reimbursement they receive. All of the approximately 160,000 students in Maine are eligible for free meals, regardless of income.
The goal of the program is to reduce the stigma associated with free or reduced-price lunches as there are many families in Maine who used to be able to afford school lunches but no longer can. The blanket policy of free meals for all students puts everyone on the same level.
Maine is only the second state in the nation to offer free meals to students. California started a similar program called the Universal Meals Program which provides two meals a day for students. Breakfast and lunch.