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NIAGARA FALLS – The more than 7,200 students in the city’s public schools this year will be able to eat breakfast and lunch for free, under a federal program.

The meals will be available at all 11 schools in the district, where about 67 percent of students already were eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

District officials still want families to submit a form, copies of which are available in the schools, by Friday so the district maintains eligibility for additional funding.

“It is still important for families to fill out the annual household income eligibility form because the information collected from that instrument helps the district apply for grants and receive Title I monies,” Superintendent Cynthia A. Bianco said in a statement.

The form will not be used to determine whether a student may receive free breakfast or lunch, according to the district.

The schools in the district that offered free meals last year were Gaskill Preparatory, LaSalle Preparatory, Abate Elementary, Cataract Elementary, Hyde Park Elementary, Niagara Street Elementary and Kalfas Magnet School.

The district said the process for serving students will not change. Students who had prepaid meal accounts can either use the money for a la carte items or desserts or have the money refunded.

Students still will have the chance to buy extra food items if desired.

For information, call the district’s Food Services Department at 286-4241.

The district was able to participate under the “Community Eligibility Option” in the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, because it met a threshold for poverty for the student body.

email: abesecker@buffnews.com