President Biden included funding to expand the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) in the his Fiscal Year 2024 budget.
The budget earmarks over $15 billion in funds to allow more school districts to take advantage of CEP, which allows schools that have a high percentage of low-income students serve universal free meals.
The White House has advocated for the expansion of universal free meals at school and aims to provide free school meals to 9 million more students by 2032 as part of its National Strategy on Hunger, Nutrition and Health.
Expanding access to universal free meals is also supported by the School Nutrition Association as well as school food leaders, who called for universal free meals during the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health last fall.
After the expiration of the U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers that allowed schools nationwide to serve meals to all students for free, several states have taken steps to introduce legislation to continue to provide universal free meals.