A community group is working toward ending the stigma on free and reduced price school lunches.

Ending the Stigma on Free and Reduced Price School LunchesThe Hunger Council of Brattleboro, Vermont recently discovered that many middle and high school students do not participate in school meals, even though they are eligible for free and reduced lunch.

The discussion started when Food Connects director Richard Berkfield began speaking about the latest marketing campaign for the organization “Powered by VT School Food.” The goal is to encourage school meal participation for all students, not just the lower income students

The independent Food Connects organization oversees three major programs:  Farm to School, Farm to Community and Farm to Institution. They have collected data showing that there are 22 to 45 percent of students eligible for free lunch, but they are not getting one. Berkfield suggested that a survey might go out to students and families to discover why they do not participate, and others in the council shared their ideas.

“For every school, we should look at the geography of it, what’s near by and what are the other competitive food places,” said Katherine Jandernoa from Food Connects.

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