Free lunch, breakfast made permanent at Old Rochester schools

Aug 12, 2023

Old Rochester Regional School District students can leave their lunch money at home as a program to provide free lunch to public school students in Massachusetts will become permanent, announced Governor Maura Healey on Wednesday, Aug. 9.

This program comes with the signing of the state’s $56 billion Fiscal Year 2024 budget, which allocated $172 million in permanent funding toward the free lunch program.

According to Old Rochester Regional High School Principal Mike Devoll, this will be the third year that Old Rochester students will have free lunch.

“It’s good for families to know that there’s free lunch again,” said Devoll, noting that the school’s lunches are a hit for students.

“We have high schoolers who love school lunch so anything beyond the first, they have to pay for,” he said.

Devoll added that a “quite popular” 7 a.m. breakfast provided by the high school is also free for students.

Massachusetts has become the eighth state to adopt permanent free lunches for public school students behind California, Colorado, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico and Vermont.

The program’s funding comes from both state and federal sources.

The Fiscal Year 2024 budget also makes use of $1 billion in revenue from the Fair Share income surtax, which is an annual four percent surtax on income over $1 million. The funds from the surtax are earmarked for public education and public infrastructure.

“This [Fiscal Year 2024] budget shows that Massachusetts can address critical needs like housing, college affordability and hunger while also remaining fiscally responsible,” said Massachusetts Administration and Finance Secretary Matthew J. Gorzkowicz.