The House Committee on Education and Labor has introduced legislation to provide universal free meals to all students this upcoming school year.
Under the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act introduced by committee chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott, all students would be eligible to temporarily receive free meals under the School Breakfast Program and the National School Lunch Program for the upcoming school year.
The bill would also allow schools and local non-profit community partners to serve free meals to all students operating under Summer Food Service Programs, Summer Seamless Option, the Child and Adult Care Food Program, At-Risk Afterschool Program or the NSLP Afterschool Snack Program without having to certify the eligibility of individual students.
All Child and Adult Care Food Program day care homes would also be eligible for reimbursement at the Tier 1 level.
The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is urging the passage of this legislation, citing that it expects many more students to be dealing with food insecurity this year due to COVID-19.
“With so many families struggling to put food on the table during the pandemic, millions more students will depend on consistent, daily access to school meals this fall,” SNA President Reggie Ross said in a statement. “Congress must act to ensure school meal programs can meet this need in any setting and respond nimbly to abrupt changes. Providing school meals at no charge to all students is the safest, most effective way to serve students and combat childhood hunger during the pandemic.”