Federal bill aims to increase summer meal access

Also in this week’s K-12 legislative update: A New Jersey bill would provide grant funding to schools that source local, and Texas’ approved budget will expand free school breakfast access for students.
Lunch trays in the cafeteria
Summer meal programs could be expanded under a bill reintroduced in Congress. | Photo: Shutterstock

Summer meal access for students could be broadened under a bill reintroduced by a federal lawmaker this week.

At the state level, New Jersey introduced a bill that would provide grant funding to help schools source local food, and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott approved the state’s latest budget, which includes funds to expand free school breakfast for students. 

Here’s a rundown of the latest in school meal legislation. 

Federal lawmaker tries again to expand summer meal access 

Congressman Andy Kim has reintroduced his Summer Meals Reaching Every Area's Child Hunger (Summer Meals REACH) Act, which would expand summer meal access for students by making permanent certain summer meal program flexibilities that were introduced during the pandemic. 

If passed, the bill would eliminate the requirement that communities have at least 50% of students be eligible for free or reduced-price meals to run a summer food service program site. It would also allow all summer feeding sites to offer grab-and-go meals and permit summer meal site sponsors to continue to monitor meal sites remotely.

"In the most powerful country in the world, it is unacceptable that millions of our children worry about where their next meal will come from. I am proud to reintroduce this legislation which would combat child hunger and ensure kids across New Jersey and the nation are able to get nutritious meals over their summer break,” Kim said in a statement. “Local community programs do incredible work to combat food insecurity and summer hunger, and I believe Congress can do more to support their efforts. We can and should do better than short-term fixes. By breaking down barriers to summer meal programs, we can support local efforts to combat food insecurity and better support children’s health, education, and well-being that will set them up for long-term success.”

New Jersey bill would establish grant program for schools that source local

A new bill introduced in New Jersey would allow schools that source local food to receive grant funding to help them with the costs associated with local procurement. 

If passed, Bill A5459 would appropriate $6,500,000 to require the Secretary of Agriculture to establish a grant program that would reimburse eligible districts for costs expended sourcing and procuring local food for use in school meals. 

The bill has been referred to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. A companion bill has also been introduced in the Senate. 

Texas’ biannual budget to expand school breakfast access 

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has approved the state’s 2024-25 biannual budget, which allocates $3.3 million annually to cover school breakfast for students who qualify for reduced-price meals at school. 

The funding will allow almost 70,000 additional students to eat breakfast at school daily, No Kid Hungry estimates

See which states currently offer universal free meals via the map below:



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