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Boise School District to offer free breakfast to all its students

A person wearing a denim jacket standing in front of a school lunch tray with a burrito, beans and a red apple. Their hand is on a keypad.
Morgan Lee

The Boise School District will be offering free breakfast to all its students starting next school year. On Monday, the School Board approved the 2024-25 school year budget including $2.1 million going towards a universal free breakfast program. The $2.1 million funds will come from the USDA and the District’s General funds.

In a news release, the District said the initiative would promote both student health and participation.

“Studies show that a well-nourished child who starts the day with breakfast is more likely to be at school, a better learner, and ready to participate in the classroom,” wrote deputy and incoming superintendent Lisa Roberts. “In addition, by offering breakfast to all students, regardless of their financial status, we are fostering equality and inclusivity within our school communities.”

“Providing free breakfast normalizes school meals, helping to eliminate the stigma that school meals are for low-income students,” said Christy Smith, supervisor of Food & Nutrition Services for the Boise School District.

The funds will also cover a portion of the Community Eligibility Provision, another USDA funded program which provides both free breakfast and free lunches to qualifying schools. Starting next year, 20 schools in the district will participate, up from 11 in previous years. Those include Fairmont, Frank Church, Garfield, Grace Jordan, Hawthorne, Hillcrest, Horizon, Jefferson, Koelsch, Lowell, Lincoln Early Learning Center, Monroe, Morley Nelson, Mountain View, Owyhee, South, Taft, Valley View, Whitney and Whittier.

“This is going to change lives across our district. It's the right thing to do for kids and it's what public schools are all about,” said Board Trustee Shiva Rajbhandari, adding he hoped the budget item would be approved in following years and expanded to also include free lunch.

The district’s first day of school is August 14.

I joined Boise State Public Radio in 2022 as the Canyon County reporter through Report for America, to report on the growing Latino community in Idaho. I am very invested in listening to people’s different perspectives and I am very grateful to those who are willing to share their stories with me. It’s a privilege and I do not take it for granted.

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