As part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, all students at Rumford Elementary School, Meroby Elementary School, Mountain Valley Middle School and Mountain Valley High School will receive free breakfast and lunch this year – a definite win.

Students with better nutrition tend to perform better academically, have better school attendance and are healthier, according to educators and health officials.

“This will really help students and their families,” Regional School Unit 10 School Nutrition Director Jeanne LaPointe said. “Based on enrollment numbers in April, more than 98.5 percent of students at those schools qualified for the Community Eligibility Provision of the act.”

Eligibility is based on a family’s participation in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, commonly known as food stamps, or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. Students who are homeless, migrants, foster children, runaways or participating in the Head Start program also qualify.

Families with students in the participating schools will no longer have to worry about paying money for lunch or breakfast at, or sending cash with students. As always, families may choose to send a cold lunch to school with their children. The price for milk will be 40 cents. Middle and high schools will offer snacks and additional meals for purchase.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses school nutrition programs for providing the meals.

“We have to collect economic data, and that form has been mailed home to parents this summer,” LaPointe said. “It is critical for parents to return the form because it determines funding for other school programs as well as the nutrition program.”

Another advantage will be the ease of going through the lunch line.

“Nutrition staff will simply count the number of students served,” LaPointe said.

All other RSU 10 schools will stay the same as part of the National School Lunch program.

Breakfast is free at elementary schools in Sumner and Peru, and at middle schools in Dixfield and Buckfield. Lunch is $2.20 at the elementary schools and $2.45 at the middle schools.

Breakfast at high schools in Dixfield and Buckfield is $1.50 and free for students who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch, provided they submit the necessary application form. Lunch at the two schools is $2.45.

“My staff and I are happy to be providing nutritional meals to ensure student success,” LaPointe said.

RSU 10 member towns are Buckfield, Hartford, Sumner, Mexico, Rumford, Byron, Roxbury, Dixfield, Peru, Canton, Carthage and Hanover.