As the first state to implement School Meals for All in 2021, California celebrates the proven success and far-reaching benefits of ensuring all kids have the nourishment they need to learn and thrive in and out of the classroom. Since, eight states have followed suit, enacting policy changes that support child nutrition through a variety of programs and funding mechanisms.
Maine passed a bill in August of 2022 that directs the Maine Department of Education to maximize federal reimbursements to provide free school lunches and breakfasts.
Colorado adopted an optional policy in November of 2022 for public schools to provide free breakfast and lunch. They’ve demonstrated that there are creative ways to see the passage of such legislation through a ballot initiative. Schools that participate will be reimbursed for the full cost of the meals provided.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz signed into law a bill that will provide free breakfast and lunch to students at schools that chose to participate in March 2023. Schools must participate in the USDA’s National School Lunch Program to receive reimbursements.
New Mexico established universal free school meals as well as increased funding to improve school kitchen infrastructure in late March, 2023.
Vermont took a creative approach in June of 2023 to achieve free school meals by instituting a 3 cent increase on the property tax rate.
Michigan has allocated up to $160 million in state funds to provide free lunch and breakfast atK-12 public schools. In July of 2023, Governor Gretchen Whitmer included an additional $25 million in funding for the program upon signing the state budget.
Massachusetts made free school meals permanent through a new law that is funded by a 4% tax on the wealthiest residents in August 2023.
Illinois recently passed the Healthy School Meals for All Program to ensure public students receive free school meals in August of 2023. The State Board of Education will serve as the regulatory body in the implementation phase of the new policy.
We applaud these successes and encourage other states to seek approaches and policies to fight child hunger, improve educational outcomes, and build community within K-12 schools nationwide.