BOSTON — Massachusetts has one of the highest rates of food insecurity in the United States with one in 10 families lacking a reliable source of fresh food, data shows.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, school districts in the Bay State provided free lunch to students, in addition to complimentary breakfast in some communities.
But as some families continue to struggle, lawmakers want to make free lunch permanent in the upcoming session.
Back in July, the state budgeted $110 million to provide free school lunches for all students in 2022-2023 school year. The cost to make the program permanent is unclear but lawmakers say data is being collected.
The Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would pay for the permanent lunch program, according to the proposal.
The lead sponsor of this bill, Haverhill State Rep. Andy Vargas, says federal funding for high poverty districts would help offset some of the cost.
Vargas noted that this program would help families save $2,000 a year per child.
Supporters are planning a rally outside the statehouse Thursday.
A similar proposal has also been filed in the senate.
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