More kids eligible for free breakfasts next year

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(Host) More Vermont children will be eligible to receive free breakfasts at school this fall. Students who previously qualified for reduced-price breakfasts will now be able to get those meals for free.

Vermont will become the fourth state to fully-fund free breakfasts to children in families that make up to 180 percent of the poverty level. That’s $38,000 a year for a family of four.

The legislature appropriated $170,000 to pay for the child’s portion of a reduced breakfast-that’s 30 cents per meal.

Dorigen Keeney of the Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger says this is an important change:

(Keeney) "What we’re finding is, and the reason the legislature did this was, because school food service has told us for a long time that reduced prices students often don’t have that 70 cents per day to pay for breakfast and lunch. So what they will do is not get breakfast, and save their 40 cents for lunch."

(Host) Keeney says the campaign has pursued this change because studies show that students who eat a nutritious breakfast are healthier, better behaved and achieve more academically.

Keeney says free breakfasts at school means more money in a family’s food budget for nutritious dinners. And she says the change couldn’t have come at a better time.

(Keeney) "30 percent of Vermonters reported in a Vermonter poll last year that they could not afford a nutritious diet, so we expect that last winter things got worse and this winter, we’re very concerned."

(Host) Currently, 27 schools in the state don’t offer a school breakfast program. The Campaign estimates that the change will bring an additional $280,000 to the state in federal reimbursements.

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