Boston school officials are hoping more students will eat the lunches now that they are free, instead of bringing something from home, setting a goal of a 10 percent to 20 percent increase in participation.
During the last school year, approximately 36,000 students — or 64 percent — ate a school-prepared lunch.
The Food Research and Action Center, an organization that promotes in-school meals, says more students have been taking advantage of the free lunches in other states that have begun the program.
The organization declined to release statistics because it will be putting out a report on the issue in the coming weeks.
“Whether those kids were packing lunches or doing without or running to a corner store — I don’t know,” said Madeleine Levin, senior policy analyst for the organization’s school breakfast and lunch program. “But more kids are eating the meals after this model is put into place. . . . It kind of levels the playing field and lets all kids get free meals without the stigma.”