All Newport News students can get free meals at school this year

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. - Every school in Newport News will be participating in a program offering free breakfast and lunch for students this year, school leaders say.

All 45 schools will also offer an after-school snack or supper if there are activities.

"It's just great to see that every student will receive a healthy breakfast and lunch with us every day," said Cathy Alexander, the Executive Director of Nutrition and Wellness for the school division.

The Community Eligibility Provision has been offered at schools throughout the city for several years, including 39 schools last school year. This year the division added the final six schools.

Funding comes from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and parents and students don't have to apply to participate.

Related: Family-style lunches at Franklin school serve up success 

"Even though meals are pretty affordable, there's a need for [families] to have meals at no charge," Alexander said. "It's great especially for large families."

Around the area, the program is offered on a school-by-school basis. Some smaller divisions, including Franklin and Sussex County, also offer the program district-wide.

Last year, about 65% of students qualified for free or reduced lunches in Newport News, meaning many students live around or below the poverty line. In some cases, meals at school are students' only for the day.

"For some students, it could be," said Alexander. "Being able to provide them meals at no charge and then being able to provide a supper as well -  it's just great so they don't go home hungry."

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