Section 37. The school committee of any city or town with the approval of the secretary of elder affairs may extend the school lunch period for the purpose of serving lunches to authorized elderly persons. Independent schools in any city or town so approved may also participate. Private nonprofit organizations or public non-school agencies approved by the secretary of elder affairs may also serve lunches to authorized elderly persons at locations convenient to the elderly.
The governing body of each city and town shall be responsible for developing a plan for a year-round hot lunch program for the elderly.
The department of elder affairs may contract with public or independent school systems, private nonprofit organizations or public non-school agencies for the preparation and serving of meals to the elderly in accordance with the provisions of this section.
To the extent feasible, the department may select as the primary contractors under this program agencies and organizations which receive funding under Title III of the Older Americans Act, as amended, or state funds to operate nonprofit congregate and home delivered meals programs for the elderly, as set forth in regulations of the department. Such primary contractors shall subcontract with one or more of the school systems, organizations or agencies set forth in the previous paragraph in order to incorporate the existing school lunch programs for the elderly into the nutrition services program under Title III of the Older Americans Act, as amended.
Such meals may be prepared by such public school systems, independent schools, agencies and organizations on site or be prepared in central production centers for service at sites more convenient to the elderly; provided, however, that no person shall pay more than one dollar for each meal.
The operation of such school lunch programs by public or independent school systems, private nonprofit organizations or public non-school agencies shall be subject to the following conditions and restrictions:
(1) Each program shall solicit voluntary contributions for each meal furnished in accordance with the requirements of Title IIIB of the Older Americans Act of 1965, as amended.
Contributions, other income earned by these programs and United States department of agriculture commodities and cash in lieu of commodities for which each such program shall become eligible shall be used with state and federal funds received to increase the number of meals served under the program, facilitate access to such meals and provide other supportive services directly related to nutrition services. Each program shall establish appropriate procedures to safeguard and account for all contributions.
(2) The lunches served shall meet the nutritional standards established in accordance with Title III of the Older Americans Act of 1965, as amended.
(3) The procedures determined by each designated school committee or independent school in serving such lunches shall be approved by the department of elder affairs.
As used in this section, the words ''authorized elderly persons'' shall mean persons sixty years of age and over and their spouses. Subject to appropriation, the commonwealth may reimburse any city, town, or regional public or independent school system or any public non-school or private nonprofit agency for certain costs approved by the department as are incurred in excess of the voluntary contributions received for each such lunch prepared and served. Subject to appropriation, such approved costs shall be reimbursed upon written request by such city, town, regional public or independent school system, public non-school or private nonprofit agency to the secretary of elder affairs on a form as he may prescribe. If the secretary approves such request, he shall certify to the comptroller that such payments are due and the state treasurer shall pay the same.