Every single public school student in Baltimore will be offered free breakfast and lunch at school regardless of whether a student comes from a low-, middle- or upper-income family, the Baltimore Sun reports.
The initiative is part of a federal program that did away with how public school districts would have some students—those from lower-income families—eat lunch for free, while other, more-privileged students would pony up a quarter, 50 cents or $1.25 at the lunch counter in order to get food. State legislators passed the initiative earlier this year in Maryland, which enabled the state to adopt the federal program.
Del. Keith Haynes, a sponsor of the legislation, said the program is a “great equalizer” for public school students and puts them all on equal footing when it comes to getting the food and resources they need to perform well in school.
“We know that nutritious, balanced meals has a direct correlation to positive outcomes for our students,” Haynes said. “And we know not everyone has access to that.”
The new program most directly affects the 16 percent of Baltimore students who did not quality for free or reduced-priced meals.
Haynes also pointed to the psychological effects the tiered lunch-payment system was having on students who did qualify for free lunch. There was a “stigma” they felt about perhaps being eligible for free food and not being able to afford to pay.
Read more at the Baltimore Sun.