Pa.’s universal free breakfast program will help kids in class, Bethlehem schools chief says

Written by on September 13, 2022

Pa.’s universal free breakfast program will help kids in class, Bethlehem schools chief says

By Sarah Mueller
September 13, 2022

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — More area students will begin their morning classes with a full stomach starting Oct. 1.

Gov. Tom Wolf recently announced a $21 million plan to provide free breakfasts for all school children in the state. 

Wolf’s office estimates the initiative will impact 1.7 million children. All students in K-12 public and charter schools will be eligible for the free breakfasts. Kids at private schools and day care centers will also be eligible, if the facilities participate in the National School Breakfasts and Lunch programs.

Bethlehem Area School District Superintendent Joseph Roy says the complimentary meals will help his students focus.

“I think there’s been a lot of research over the years that getting food into your stomach so you have energy, you’re awake, your brain is ready to learn makes a big difference in learning,” he said.

The federal government made school meals free during the pandemic. But that initiative expired at the end of June. Wolf says because the federal government paid for school breakfasts, the state’s fund for that has a surplus. 

“I think that’s also going to help on the lunch debt because students will start the day with a meal,” he said. “Even if they can’t afford to have the lunch, they will at least have the free school breakfast.” 

Kids will automatically qualify for the state’s universal breakfast program regardless of income.


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