RIDGEFIELD \u2014 About $437,000 in federal funds have been allocated to support free lunches for all elementary and middle schools students in the town\u2019s public schools. The grant went to the Connecticut State Department of Education for the Free School Meals for Children program and will cover the cost of lunches for K-8 students in Ridgefield until funds are depleted, according to an announcement from Jill M. Browne, Ridgefield Public Schools Director of Finance. The purpose of the funds is to help households through the local school system, continuing to provide school meals at no cost to students for as long as possible in the coming school year now that a COVID-19 era free school meals program is ending. Schools participating in the National School Lunch Program in 2022-23 are eligible for funding, so the K-8 schools will participate. Ridgefield High School, however, is not eligible to receive free meals in the 2022-23 school year. All schools will continue to collect free- and- reduced-price lunch applications during the extended time period, to ease the transition back to pre-pandemic meal service operations, according to the school district. The district\u2019s business office will work closely with its food service management company to monitor meal counts and state Department of Education reimbursements to allow for ample time to communicate with families regarding the program's end.