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Gateway Regional School District adds free lunch program to middle school, high school

Lunch options in a school cafeteria.
Hakim Fobia
U.S. Department of Agriculture
Lunch options in a school cafeteria.

Students at Gateway Regional School District's middle and high schools will be getting free lunches when classes begin at the end of August.

Tasha Hartley manages food services for the district, which serves students from Huntington, Russell, Blandford, Chester, Montgomery, Middlefield, and Worthington, Massachusetts.

Hartely said while lunches will be free this year, there remains a free and reduced lunch form to fill out.

"It's important to get the applications in just so that they may qualify for other programs," she said.

Those other programs include SNAP - or what was food stamps, P-EBT, and MassHealth. Hartley said the district fed more students at the high school and middle school last year than before, because of a federal pandemic free meal program that has since expired. The district's two elementary schools already qualified for free meal service, due to their low-income student population.

For the upcoming school year, Gov. Charlie Baker signed a new one-time investment of $110 million dollars to support a free school meal pilot program for grades K-through-12. The anti-hunger organization Project Bread says Massachusetts is among five states providing lunches to students for free this school year.

Carrie Healy hosts the local broadcast of "Morning Edition" at NEPM. She also hosts the station’s weekly government and politics segment “Beacon Hill In 5” for broadcast radio and podcast syndication.