Connecticut legislators have passed a bill that includes funding for universal free meals for the rest of the school year.
HB 6671 includes $60 million from the federal American Rescue Plan Act to provide the meals through the end of June. The bill passed the House by a vote of 144-0 and in the Senate by a vote of 35-0. Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont is expected to sign it into law.
Connecticut had administered federal aid to school districts earlier this school year, allowing them to provide universal free meals; however, some districts started to run out of the funds early in 2022 and began charging for meals again.
“The free school meals program that began at the beginning of the pandemic has helped ensure that thousands of young children have access to nutritious food, which is an essential component of learning, and has provided a financial break for many middle-class families,” Gov. Lamont said in a press release. “Although the federal emergency aid that initially supported this is coming to an end, funding it for the remainder of this school year just makes sense and I applaud everyone for coming together to get this approved.”
The state is one of a handful that are temporarily covering school meals after the U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers that allowed all public school students to receive free meals nationwide expired last summer.
Other states, such as Colorado, have decided to fund universal free meals indefinitely.
Support for free meals at school continues to strengthen. The School Nutrition Association made offering universal free meals a main focus of its 2023 Position Paper, and many food leaders have come out in favor of offering free meals to all public school students.
See which states currently offer, or are considering, universal free meals via the map below: