State and local leaders were in New Haven on Monday to call attention to proposed cuts to Connecticut’s school lunch program.
Connecticut passed landmark nutrition legislation in 2006 that encourages school districts to offer students healthier food. The program limits sugar, salt and fat content; requires reasonable portion sizes; and adds more fruit, veggies and whole grains to school menus. The state offers financial incentives to districts to participate.
Given the current budget impasse, Democrats are recommending a 25% reduction in funding for the initiative. Governor Rell has proposed cutting aid by half. Critics like Lucy Nolan, executive director of End Hunger Connecticut say a 50% cut threatens the program’s viability.
"More and more kids are becoming eligible for free and reduced priced meals in the state. For many kids particularly in our cities these are the only meals that they receive all day, what they get at school."
In a statement, the Governor’s office says “Every school child in CT entitled to free and nutritious school lunches and breakfasts will continue to receive them. The funding in question involves an extra 10 cents to enhance food choices for all students”.
That 10 cents per meal adds up to a loss of nearly 300 thousand dollars for Bridgeport, and 174 thousand for Hartford – two of the 114 school districts that participate in the Healthy Food Program.