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New Law Expands Free School Breakfast Across N.H.

Governor Sununu has signed a bill to expand free breakfast for low-income students. The new law requires schools to offer free breakfast to students from families whose income formerly qualified them for reduced-price breakfast.


The reduced price was $0.30 per meal; advocates said when totaled for an entire school year, this was prohibitive for poor families with multiple kids.


“They often found themselves in the position of having to decide: Do I give them the money for lunch or do I give them the money for breakfast?” explains Elaine VanDyke, of the advocacy and research group New Hampshire Hunger Solutions. "Usually breakfast fell through the crack.”


The cost of this expansion is anticipated to reach about 7,500 students next year. It will be covered mostly by federal reimbursements - about $2 million - and by about $350,000 from the state.


VanDyke hopes that no longer charging low-income families will help school districts tackle the growing problem of families' unpaid lunch and breakfast debt.


Senator Martha Fuller Clark, the bill's primary sponsor, said that while New Hampshire's overall ratings for child well-being are high, an estimated 40,000 children face food insecurity.


"I'm delighted that the Governor supported this legislation," she said.



Sarah Gibson joined NHPR's newsroom in 2018. She reports on education and demographics.
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