‘SMART funds 2.0’ to provide free school lunches until end of the year


MONROE, CT — Monroe’s public schools will continue to offer free lunches to students in grades k-8 this year.

After American Rescue Plan Act funds ran out at the end of December, Superintendent of Schools Joseph Kobza said families had to pay for lunches in grades k-8 again, but the state legislature approved more funding to continue free lunches through the end of the year.

The American Rescue Plan Act’s SMART (School Meals Assistance Revenue for Transition) fund paid for the meals through December, before the legislature unanimously passed House Bill 6671 and Gov. Ned Lamont signed it, allocating another $60 million for the remainder of the school year, according to Kobza.

He said legislators are calling it SMART funds 2.0.

“It’s for the base meals,” Kobza told the Board of Education at its meeting on Feb. 21. “Students can still buy items à la carte,  but they have to pay for it.”

The superintendent sent families a letter informing them of the free lunches, which were offered starting this Wednesday.

He said the free lunches are for all students in Monroe’s National School Lunch Program schools, which includes all three elementary schools and Jockey Hollow Middle School. Masuk High School does not participate in the program.

Kobza told the school board the funding for school lunches may be a one time thing.

“I don’t think anyone anticipates that money will be available after this school year,” he said.

Board of Education Chairman David Ferris asked Kobza if parents have to take any action, such as enrolling their children, to take advantage of the free meals.

“They will not, but if you qualify for free or reduced lunch still fill out that paperwork because it’s factored into the money distributed to the districts,” Kobza replied.

“Good news,” Ferris said. “Good program.”

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