Starting this year, every student in Massachusetts can eat for free at schools participating in the National School Lunch Program. Now, all kids can explore nutritious foods with friends and reach their full potential in the classroom, no matter their family’s income.
Free school meals keep nutritious food on kids’ plates, and stress off families’ shoulders. But while breakfast and lunch may be necessities, it doesn't mean they can't be fun, too. Free school meals make parents' lives easier and kids' lives more joyful. Eating school meals not only nourishes the body, but builds school community - giving students a chance to make friends and build social skills that will last a lifetime.
Caregivers know that food is one of the ultimate love languages for kids— but it can also be one of the biggest stressors a family can face.
Free school meals take stress off the menu for families across the commonwealth by ensuring their kids are fully fed and ready to learn when they’re at school. It also means that schools have the support they’ve needed to invest in their school nutrition programs, so they can serve nutritious and delicious meals that students can’t wait to line up for.
You’ve heard of peer pressure— we like to call this peer encouragement. Some kids might be picky eaters at home where they know there’s mac and cheese in the cabinet. But when they see their friends enjoying healthy and culturally inclusive meals in the cafeteria, their curiosity outweighs their lunchbox loyalty.
Let your made-with-love snacks be their weekend or afternoon treat— their excitement will be worth the wait for everyone!
But here it is, plain and simple: school meals save time and money for all families.
Free School meals save families up to $1,000 a year, per child!
Schools across the commonwealth are investing in their meal programs to improve the quality of their ingredients, and the deliciousness of their meals. Since free school meals were implemented in response to the pandemic, breakfast and lunch participation has nearly doubled across the state.
So, it’s not a question of if kids will like the meals— it’s whether they’ll actually try them.
START A CONVERSATION→
Kids are curious by nature, so when they abstain from something there’s usually a reason. Help destigmatize the delicious free meals served at school by figuring out what exactly your student is trying to avoid, and then brainstorm solutions to take the stress out of the new experience.
PICK A GOAL→
Change rarely happens overnight. Whether your starting goal is to have breakfast at school but lunch packed from home, or maybe one school meal a week, who doesn’t love the feeling of achievement?
MAKE A PLAN→
If your child is struggling to get excited about school meals, try looking at the menu for a meal or two that pique their appetite. Sit down together and circle some definite “yes,” “no,” and “maybe” meals— you can help them make their selections by pointing out things similar to what they usually like. Crunchy, bready, cheesy, you name it.
BE A LITTLE EXTRA→
Who said there’s anything wrong with a little treat? If you have snacks around the house that are dreaming of being eaten, try packing some in your child’s backpack as a reminder of how much you care. For picky eaters wading out of their comfort zone, it can be helpful to send them utensils from home or their favorite drink to help them relax around the new or different foods.
USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM→
Ask your child if they have a friend who likes to eat breakfast and lunch at school! Kids can influence each other in a lot of ways. Now thanks to school meals are free for everyone, peer pressure applies to trying new foods, too.
Contact your Child’s School Nutrition/Food Service Team to learn more about which meals are provided free of charge to all students daily and how your child can participate.