The Mountain Times

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Governor proposes funding to ensure all low income students can access school lunch

On Jan. 10, in his State of the State address, Governor Shumlin proposed funding to ensure that all low income students have access to school lunch. In Vermont, like states across the nation, school children go without eating because they do not have the money to buy school lunch and there is no food at home. These students struggle to concentrate and do poorly in school. Schools report that low income students who must pay 40 cents for lunch are often the ones going without. These are the working families who make too much for free school meals but not enough to make ends meet.

"We've been advocating for this for the past three years," said Marissa Parisi, executive director of Hunger Free Vermont. "We're thrilled that the Governor understands the importance of adequate nutrition in our children's success and applaud him for suggesting that Vermont become the first state in the nation to take this step that supports students, working families, and school communities."

To ensure Vermont's economic viability, students must be well-educated. Vermont currently spends $1.4 billion on K-12 education. The proposed funding, at a cost of $320,000, would pay the students' share of reduced price school lunch, ensuring that over 6,000 low income students eat a healthy lunch and are able to fully engage in their studies. With additional meals served in schools, the state funding will leverage an additional $390,000 in federal funds to support school meal programs in Vermont.

Commenting on the Governor's recommendation, Secretary of Education Armando Vilaseca said, "As a former school principal, I know that many children go the entire school day without eating. Hungry kids struggle to concentrate and often do poorly in school. This small amount of funding, 40 cents a day per eligible student, will have a huge impact."