Wednesday October 7th, 2015 11:42AM

Family income not a factor as students eat free

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
BOSTON (AP) -- Some students toted lunchboxes to the first day of school in Boston this week, but district administrators are expecting that could become a more unusual sight as parents learn about a federal program that is now providing all public school students in the city with free breakfast and lunch.

The nation's oldest school system has joined a program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that has spread to 10 states - including Georgia - and the District of Columbia that offers students two free meals every school day, whether or not their families can afford them.

"It's one less weight and one less burden for parents," said Joshua Rivera, whose son is a second-grader at the Maurice J. Tobin School in Boston's Roxbury section.

Known as Community Eligibility Option, the program is part of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. For schools to qualify, federal officials said, more than 40 percent of students have to be getting food stamps or aid through certain other federal assistance programs.

Besides easing hunger, school officials said, the program eliminates the expense and time of handling paperwork for students who qualify for reduced or free meals and also helps erase a stigma that plagued some students from poor families.

With the program's adoption in Boston, education officials said, the city joins schools in cities including Grand Rapids, Mich., Atlanta and Washington, D.C., in a program that will be available across the country starting in the 2014-2015 school year.

Efrain Toledano, principal of the Tobin School in Boston, said he expects the program will cut down on potential disruptions at the K-8 school by easing hunger pangs that could be linked to classroom misbehavior.

"We know that calm stomachs means calm students who are ready to learn in classrooms," he said Wednesday.

Michael Peck, director of Food and Nutrition Services for Boston Public Schools, said 76 percent of students already had qualified for free or reduced price meals.

He said the program will save the district money, partly because officials won't have to hire couriers to drop off and pick up applications for reduced or free meals at the city's more than 120 schools. They also may be able to cancel the armored car pickups of cafeteria money.

An Atlanta Public Schools spokeswoman said students at 58 of the city's 100 public schools started getting free breakfast and lunch this year under the program. A spokeswoman for District of Columbia Public Schools said 76 out of 111 district schools are part of the program, which started there in the last school year.

In western Michigan, an administrator with Grand Rapids Public Schools said the district has been serving free breakfast and lunch for its 17,000 students since the 2012-2013 school year started.

Paul Baumgartner, the district's nutrition service director, said that breakfast counts skyrocketed after the program began and that it saves families the hassle of filling out applications for free or reduced price meals.

"The rationale is we've got these communities that have demonstrated severe need," he said. "Why don't we see if we can reduce some of these barriers?"
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
S&P 500 index has its best year since 1997
The stock market closed out a record year with more all-time highs on Tuesday, giving U.S. indexes their biggest annual gains in almost two decades.
6:56PM ( 1 year ago )
Colorado readies for 'Green Wednesday' pot sales
Police were adding extra patrols around pot shops in eight Colorado towns that plan to allow recreational sales to anyone over 21 on Jan. 1.
1:52PM ( 1 year ago )
Kerry seeks framework for Mideast peace talks
A senior State Department official says Secretary of State John Kerry will try this week to get Israel and the Palestinians to agree on a framework for negotiating a final peace agreement, yet cautions against raising expectations for Kerry's latest round of shuttle diplomacy.
1:35PM ( 1 year ago )
U.S. News
Ethics laws set to take effect Jan. 1 in Georgia
After dominating much of the legislative session, a set of major ethics reforms is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1.
7:04PM ( 1 year ago )
Sex offender held in Hall County for failing to register
A 47-year-old man was booked into the Hall County Jail Tuesday, being held without bond for allegedly failing to register as a sex offender, his second such arrest.
6:09PM ( 1 year ago )
Pharmacy robberies may involve same suspect
Oakwood Police Tuesday afternoon released details in a pharmacy robbery they're investigating, similar to one that happened in the Hall County Tuesday morning.
5:46PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Feds announce test sites for drone aircraft
The Federal Aviation Administration announced six states on Monday that will develop test sites for drones, a critical next step for the march of the unmanned aircraft into U.S. skies.
2:23PM ( 1 year ago )
Congress letting 55 tax breaks expire at year end
In an almost annual ritual, Congress is letting a package of 55 popular tax breaks expire at the end of the year, creating uncertainty - once again - for millions of individuals and businesses.
2:21PM ( 1 year ago )
Feeling US snub, Saudis strengthen ties elsewhere
Increasingly vocal in its frustration over U.S. policies in the Mideast, Saudi Arabia is strengthening ties elsewhere, seeking out an alignment that will bolster its position after it was pushed to the sidelines this year.
4:34PM ( 1 year ago )
UN is next stop for Obama after success with Iran, pope; top issues are IS, Syria, Russia
NEW YORK (AP) — Fresh from successes on Iran and with the pope, President Barack Obama still carried heavy burdens into critical meetings this week at the U.N. General Assembly.They include the threat...
3:31PM ( 1 week ago )
Stunning Congress, House Speaker Boehner announces plans to resign; tea party declares victory
WASHINGTON (AP) — Plunging Congress into deeper turmoil, House Speaker John Boehner abruptly announced his resignation Friday, shutting down a tea party drive to depose the nation's highest-ranking Re...
6:14PM ( 1 week ago )
Tornado heavily damages 10 homes but causes no injuries on island in South Carolina
JOHNS ISLAND, S.C. (AP) — A tornado quickly blew through a neighborhood on the South Carolina coast early Friday and blew out windows, knocked down trees and heavily damaged ten homes.The tornado touc...
5:08PM ( 1 week ago )
Caterpillar says it may cut more than 10,000 jobs by 2018, lowers 2015 revenue expectation
Caterpillar is planning another round of job cuts that could exceed 10,000 people through 2018, as the construction and mining equipment maker adjusts to downturns in key markets.That could amount to...
10:06AM ( 1 week ago )
Escaped tarantula grounds Atlanta-bound flight in Baltimore
An eight-legged creature that escaped in the cargo hold of a passenger flight from Baltimore-Washington International Airport to Atlanta's Hartsfield-Jackson International grounded the plane and sent passengers onto another flight.
By The Associated Press
9:06AM ( 1 week ago )