Federal bill would ban lab-grown meat in school meals

Also in this week’s K-12 legislative update: States continue to take steps toward implementing universal free school meals for all.
Students having lunch at school
Lab-grown proteins would be banned in school meals under a new federal bill. | Photo: Shutterstock

Lab-grown protein may be banned from school meals due to a new federal bill that was introduced. Meanwhile at the state level, Maryland and Rhode Island consider implementing universal free school meals.

Here is the latest in K-12 nutrition legislation.

Bill would block lab-grown meat in schools

Two federal lawmakers have introduced legislation that would ban the use of cell-cultivated meat products in school meals.

Sponsored by U.S. Senators Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.), The School Lunch Integrity Act of 2024 would prevent lab-grown protein from being used in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program.

Cell-grown meat was first developed in 2013 and will probably be popping up on menus at U.S. restaurants soon.

The U.S. Senators argue that the products should be banned from school foodservice since the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has not published any guidance on cell-cultivated protein. In addition, they argue that there is a lack of demonstrated studies showing the safety of lab-grown meat.

“Our students should not be test subjects for cell-cultivated ‘meat’ experiments,” said Rounds in a statement. “South Dakota farmers and ranchers work hard to produce high quality beef products. These products are often sold to South Dakota schools, where they provide necessary nutrition to our students. With high quality, local beef readily available for our students, there’s no reason to be serving fake, lab-grown meat products in the cafeteria. I’m pleased to introduce this bipartisan legislation that benefits South Dakota producers and protects students from the unknown effects of cell-cultivated ‘meat’ products.”

The bill is endorsed by the U.S. Cattlemen’s Association, R-CALF USA, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association and South Dakota Pork Producers.

Rhode Island and Maryland lawmakers consider universal free school meals

Just after Rhode Island Governor Dan McKee’s included funding to cover the cost of reduced-price school meals for students in his proposed FY 2025 state budget, lawmakers in the state have introduced a bill that would provide free meals at school to all students.

House Bill 7337 would provide every public school student free breakfast and lunch at school, regardless of their families financial background.

State lawmakers also introduced a universal free school meals bill last legislative session, but it did not pass.

The current bill has been referred to the House Finance Committee.

Maryland is also considering enacting a universal free school meals program.

HB 696, would provide free school meals to students who attend a school that is a part of the National School Lunch Program or the School Breakfast Program. The bill is currently in the Ways and Means Committee.

If passed, the new law would go into effect starting in fiscal year 2025. This is the second attempt by the state to pass universal free school meal legislation.

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



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