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Free breakfast, lunch for all Riverhead students this year

For the first time, all students at each of the Riverhead School District’s seven buildings will receive free breakfast and lunch.

In recent years, four of the district’s elementary schools and its middle school had been eligible for the Community Eligibility Provision, which allows schools with high percentages of low-income children to offer breakfast and lunch free to all students. Both Riverhead High School and Riley Avenue Elementary School have now been included in that state program, which uses federal reimbursements to cover the costs of the meals.

Deputy superintendent Sam Schneider explained last year that the district had applied for all schools to be eligible for the program in the past, but only five of the buildings had gained approval. Students in the two remaining schools were only eligible for free breakfast and lunch if they met certain criteria based on household size and income. Only a student from a four-person home earning $32,630 or less annually qualified for free meals last year.

Since 2013, Riverhead has allowed students who don’t have enough cash on hand to charge meals and pay at a later date, but that program has caused some issues. In August 2019, Mr. Schneider reported that nearly $23,000 was still owed by students from the prior school year.

Riverhead’s full participation in the Community Eligibility Provision is pending approval of a resolution at tonight’s Board of Education meeting.