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Baltimore Schools to Give Free Breakfast and Lunch to All Students

A new Maryland law will enable every student in the Baltimore public schools to qualify for free breakfast and lunch, regardless of income level.

Under the Hunger Free Schools Act of 2015, entire schools, not just individual students, are eligible for free meals. Schools where at least 40 percent of students come from low-income families are eligible to participate.

The state legislature passed a bill this year allowing schools to participate in the federal Community Eligibility Provision, "which provides for a school-based qualification, instead of an individual-based qualification for free meals," the Associated Press reports.

The Baltimore Sun reports that 84 percent of city students already qualify for free and reduced-priced meals as part of the National School Lunch Program.

The paper reports that critics chastised the district for not opting into the program two years ago when it raised lunch prices to $3, making the meals among the costliest in the nation for students. The principal at Beechfield Elementary/Middle School told the Sun that she often sees students sharing lunches with classmates who can't afford to buy food.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture launched the Community Eligibility Provision in three states in 2011. Now more than 2,200 districts nationwide are participating.

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