Budget Cuts Could Impact Free Food Program for Students in Cambridge | NECN


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Budget Cuts Could Impact Free Food Program for Students in Cambridge

Food for Free's Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program provides meals for low income students



    (Published Monday, Dec. 19, 2016)

    State budget cuts could leave hundreds of students with empty stomachs on the weekends in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

    Gov. Charlie Baker recently slashed $110,000 from the Food for Free's Cambridge Weekend Backpack Program. The program helps 485 low income students at Cambridge Public Schools eat nutritious meals on Saturdays and Sundays.

    The free meals make all the difference for many families like Andy Suarez, since he and his wife both work full time jobs, just to get by.

    "We don't have any time to prep lunch. It's basically the thing that hold us, at that specific time," Suarez said.

    Food for Free Director Allana Mallon is now scrambling to figure out how to fund the Weekend Backpack Project.

    "These are school kids who the school cafeteria is their primary source of nutrition," Mallon said. "We send food for every sibling in the family."

    State Rep. Marjorie Decker is now putting Gov. Baker on blast, since the program is her project. She said she wanted the program to be a model for the rest of the state.

    "There's no rhyme or reason why some programs were cut and others weren't," Decker said.

    Baker's office did not specifically answer necn as to why the budget for the program has been cut. In the meantime, Mallow is turning to the city of Cambridge to help fund the program at least through the end of the school year.

    "We're trying to get there. I can't imagine my 9 colleagues won't vote for this once the city manager comes back to us with a plan," Mallon said.

    Food for Free is hoping private donors and companies will step up, if the state can't figure out a way to find more money for the program.

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