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Back to School 2022: Resources to Prevent Child Hunger & Malnutrition

We say it every year, but this summer has really flown by. We hope it’s been a great one for you and your loved ones.

With Connecticut and New York kiddos going back to school, we’re doing all we can to make sure they have enough nourishing food to eat—so they can succeed in the classroom and beyond.

Filling in the Blanks partners closely with schools in our region to supply weekend meals for kids in need. For the last two years, the federal school meal waiver program allowed all kids to access free breakfast and lunch at school, no questions asked. Sadly, that federal program just ended on June 30th. For the 2022-23 school year, families need to apply for free or reduced-price school meals like they did before the pandemic.

With inflation and food prices soaring right now, we encourage all families who might be eligible to apply for meal assistance for your kid(s) as soon as possible!

How to apply for school meal assistance & who qualifies

This USDA article has information and eligibility requirements for kids to receive free or reduced-price school meals in the 2022-23 school year. This more detailed chart can help you determine whether your kid(s) qualify for free or reduced-price lunch based on your household income.

Here’s an example to help you understand how the chart works: A child in a family of four with a household income of $51,338/year or less qualifies for reduced-price meals. A child in a family of four with a household income of $36,075/year or less qualifies for free meals.

To apply for school meal assistance in Connecticut, contact your county’s staff person or ask for an application at your child’s school and they will answer any questions you may have. To apply for school meal assistance in New York, ask for an application at your child’s school and they will answer any questions you may have.

You can apply for school meal assistance any time—even if the school year is already underway. You, your children, or other household members do not have to be U.S. citizens to apply for free or reduced price meals. Citizenship status is not a question on the application.

How to apply for Filling in the Blanks & who qualifies

You can register for free weekend meals for your kid(s) by visiting this webpage. You will see links to either select your town on the right hand side, or email us if your town is not listed. You can also check with your school’s social worker to find out if they partner with us.

If we don’t currently serve your area, that may change in the future! Filling in the Blanks is growing and our team is working hard to provide meals to more schools.

Important nutrition info for kids in school

Making sure all children have enough to eat is critical, but what they eat is equally critical for their ability to focus, learn, and develop physically, socially, and emotionally. We worked with school and hospital nutritionists to design our weekend meal bags, to ensure they meet kids’ nutritional needs. We’re constantly researching and adding wonderful new shelf-stable items (most recently yogurts!) to fulfill nutritional needs.

Fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low fat/non-fat dairy, and healthy protein should make up the majority of every kid’s diet—just like adults.

According to the CDC, “Empty calories from added sugars and solid fats contribute to 40% of daily calories for children and adolescents age 2–18 years—affecting the overall quality of their diets. Approximately half of these empty calories come from six sources: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk.”

Nutrients and calories are NOT the same. “While most American children may be taking in a great deal of calories, they may not be taking in any essential vitamins, nutrients, and minerals. This lack in vitamins and minerals leads to detrimental side-effects.” (Public School Review)

Filling in the Blanks is fighting against empty bellies and empty calories by providing well-rounded, nourishing meal bags every weekend. Please share this blog post with your community, because you truly never know who might benefit from this information right now.

If you’re able to support us by donating or volunteering, it makes all the difference in the world for local families.

We wish you a wonderful 2022-23 school year!


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