PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island’s largest school district is now giving every student access to free breakfasts and lunches without having to apply for a free or reduced-price lunch program.
The Providence Journal reports that the Providence School Board gave the new policy – which has been in effect since school started in September – first passage at its meeting Wednesday night.
Board President Nina Pande says removing the application process for reduced-price lunches helps eliminate the stigma for students who are eligible. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, nearly 60% of Providence students meet the criteria for free or reduced lunch.
Elementary students have had free lunch since 2017. The district is now expanding the program to middle and high schoolers.
Providence Public Schools spokeswoman Emily Martineau says the city is expected to receive about $16 million in reimbursement from the federal government for the program.
Earlier this year, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced the ‘No Student Hungry’ initiative to make sure no student goes hungry.
The school board will take the new policy up for second and final passage at its next meeting.