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Gillibrand Bill Would Provide Free Meals to All School Kids


A bill that would provide free breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack to all schoolchildren regardless of income, expand access to free meals over the summer, and eliminate school meal debt has been introduced in Washington by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand.

The Universal School Meals Program Act would:

  1. Permanently provide free breakfast, lunch, and dinner to all schoolchildren regardless of income and put an end to burdensome application paperwork that poses a barrier to enrollment in meal programs.
  2. Increase the reimbursement rates for school authorities participating in the food and nutrition programs to more accurately reflect the true cost of providing meals.
  3. Reduce stigma associated with meal programs by eliminating meal debt and prohibiting school food authorities from discriminating against or overtly identifying a child participating in the free meal program
  4. Expand the summer food service program and summer EBT program by making all children eligible to participate in the programs. Currently, only communities where 50 percent of children are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch can operate a summer meals program; the Universal School Meals Program Act would make all communities eligible regardless of income.

“In the richest country on earth, it is unacceptable that millions of kids go hungry each day,” said Senator Gillibrand. “The Universal School Meals Program Act would provide funding for free breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack for students who need them and slash burdensome red tape for school administrators. It would make our families and communities healthier and stronger, keep kids in school, and work to fight the stigma too often associated with meal programs. I’m proud to be introducing this critical legislation today and look forward to getting it passed.”

Free school meals are associated with a variety of positive outcomes, including improved attendance rates and school performance, fewer behavioral incidents, lower suspension rates, better health outcomes, and reduced financial stress for students and families.

A summary of the Universal School Meals Program Act can be seen below:


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