New Policy: Free Breakfast For All, Free Lunch for Some

CRLS Makes Healthy Breakfast and Lunch More Accessible, Equitable


Sakib Asraf

CRLS students can now enjoy a completely free breakfast before first period.

Juliana Vandermark, Around School Editor

As of 2019, all Cambridge Public School District students will have access to free breakfast, and those who have previously received reduced fee lunch will now receive lunch for free as well.

In August, before this plan was fully put into place, Mayor Marc McGovern wrote a letter to the Cambridge School Committee recommending this change and updating everyone on the status of the possible transition, stating, “Consistent healthy nutrition can and will have an impact on the well-being of children and families in our community. I hope that you join me in thanking CPS [Cambridge Public Schools] and City Staff for their positive collaboration in service of Cambridge youth.” In this letter, Mayor McGovern spoke about his findings from collaborating on the Free and Reduced Lunch Program Report in March of 2017, what he and the district hope to change, and how they intend on doing it.

Later on in the letter, McGovern described the lead up to this new change, explaining that while Cambridge’s poverty rate is about 18%, 30% of black and Latinx families currently live below the Federal Poverty Guideline (FPG). However, McGovern explained, “The FPG does little to tell the true story of income insecurity in Cambridge, as our cost of living is so much higher than the majority of the country.” To this point, he highlighted that for a family of four, the FGP is $24,500 a year. However according to the 2015 Income Insecurity Report, in Cambridge, that same family must earn $108,800 annually to live comfortably. “This demonstrates that there is a significant gap between those who are defined as ‘in poverty’ and those who can barely get by in Cambridge,” McGovern stated.

“Healthy nutrition can and will have an impact on the wellbeing of children and families in our community”

These free meals will relieve lower-income families of the weight of providing their children with healthy meals daily. Junior Natalia Bechthold commended the decision, explaining, “I think it’s good that the administration is trying to make the system more equitable and accessible for everyone by providing free meals.”

Regardless of the student’s exact financial status at home, everyone can show up to school a few minutes early for a free, healthy start to the day. Widely considered the most important meal of the day, breakfast is essential for a successful day of classes. Eating breakfast has been proven to boost students’ concentration, test scores, and energy levels. It also provides students with essential vitamins and minerals for growth and development; by missing breakfast, students risk missing 1/3 of what they should be getting. According to the 2013 No Kid Hungry report, students who eat breakfast attend school more frequently are 20% more likely to graduate from high school. “I need to come earlier so I can take advantage of the free breakfast,” senior Elliot Harris said. “It’s a motivation to be on time.”


This piece also appears in our January 2019 print edition.