Boston public school officials today are expected to announce the start of a free lunch program that will make meals available to all students regardless of their family's financial situation.
The Boston Globe reported that the meal program has been more than a year in the making, and is part of a federal initiative that aims to make it easier for students from low-income families to receive free meals by eliminating the need to fill out paperwork, including potentially invasive questions about income.
Atlanta, Detroit and Chicago have been tied to the experimental program, according to the report.
Next year, the program will be open to any school district in the U.S. The cost of the free meals will be covered by the federal government, the Globe reported.
“Every child has a right to healthy, nutritious meals in school, and when we saw a chance to offer these healthy meals at no cost to them, we jumped at the chance,” Mayor Thomas M. Menino said in a statement. “This takes the burden of proof off our low-income families and allows all children, regardless of income, to know healthy meals are waiting for them at school every day.”
Reaction was mixed after news broke today that the program would soon go into effect in Boston.
One Globe reader weighed in, writing in the comment section of the story, "Overall I think 'food' should be part of the school experience."
Another reader wrote, "Filling out one form for your child is a burden? It is funny because we are a nation in decline. Give it all away so no one feels bad. Perfect."
"There is no such thing as a free lunch. This is another outrageous waste of tax money, and not any better because it is spread across all federal taxpayers, not just those from Boston and Massachusetts," said another reader.