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      Back to School: New Bedford offers free breakfast, lunch to all students

      An overwhelming majority of New Bedford students already qualified for free and reduced lunch in recent years. Now, every single student will get breakfast and lunch paid for by the federal government from the universal free lunch program.

      "Children who are eligible for free and reduced lunch have to be 40 percent of the student population. In New Bedford that's over three quarters of our students meet those standards," said Pat Murphy of the New Bedford School District.

      This is a national program launched by Michelle Obama back in 2010. Boston public schools joined the list of communities providing free lunch, as did Worcester, Massachusetts last year.

      If your child's school doesn't participate in the program, lunch costs parents $2 a day in the elementary school and $2.25 in middle and high schools. The program could save parents up to $400 a year per child.

      Sometimes eligible families would not qualify because they would forget to fill out the paperwork that must be updated each year. Some older students were embarrassed by the stigma attached to free lunch and this program aims to do away with that.

      "Especially in the upper grades, some children would be embarrassed about doing this so you would be concerned about those children I think the benefits outweigh the potential negatives," Murphy said.