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Colorado bill would put universal free meals up for a vote

The bill, which would provide universal free meals to students in the state, would only go into effect if state voters approved it during the upcoming election in November.
A student receives lunch in the cafeteria.
Photo: Shutterstock

Colorado lawmakers have introduced a bill that would provide universal free meals at school to all students in the state beginning in the 2023-2024 school year.

The bill would only go into effect if Colorado voters approve the measure during the 2022 general election held in November.

If passed, HB 22-1414 would provide free meals to all students without exception. The meals would cost $100 million annually and would be funded by taxing residents who make over $300,000 a year.

HB 22-1414 would also provide additional financial assistance to schools to allow them to offer a stipend for school foodservice workers or increase their wages. Schools would also have the opportunity to receive local food purchasing grants if they create a parent and student advisory committee on food purchasing.

As the child nutrition waivers that allowed schools to provide universal free meals during the pandemic expire next month, other states are also introducing bills that would provide free meals to students. Massachusetts and Vermont, for example, are looking at using state funding to extend universal free meals for students for the upcoming school year.

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