1 LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

SKOWHEGAN, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Skowhegan-area schools rolled out a new program Wednesday, the first day of classes. Every student in the district is eligible to receive free breakfast and lunch, regardless of their family's income.

It is part of the Healthy Hungry-Free Kids Act of 2010. The meals include healthy options, like fresh fruit and a salad bar.

About 70 percent of students at Skowhegan Area High School had a free lunch Wednesday. The district expects participation to grow as more students and parents learn about the program.

School employees said they believe the meals will improve student performance in the classroom.

"By having food available to them at no cost, it reduces some behavior issues," Laura Pineo, the district's School Nutrition Director, said. "It increases attendance in schools. It lets them test better. They're ready to learn. They're ready to listen, because we're making them more secure every day."

The Skowhegan district is one of only six schools or districts in Maine participating in the program.

The other participants are RSU 31 based in Howland, the Caswell School in Northern Aroostook County, RSU 88 in Van Buren, one school in RSU 13 in Rockland and five schools in the city of Auburn.

Read or Share this story: http://on.wlbz2.com/1tLs8oT