Federal bill seeks to better training for school nutrition professionals

Also in this week’s K-12 legislative update: A new law in Maine will provide grant funding to foodservice programs, and lawmakers in Massachusetts pass a budget bill that would provide universal free meals.
Students eating lunch at school
A new federal bill aims to improve training for school nutrition professionals. | Photo: Shutterstock

It’s been a busy couple of days when it comes to school meal legislation across the country. 

Here’s a look at the latest developments. 

An aim to update training 

A new federal bill seeks to enhance training for school nutrition professionals. 

Introduced by U.S. Senator Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the Improving Training for School Food Service Workers Act would build upon the professional standards enacted with the reauthorization of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. 

The bill would require that training for school nutrition staff occur during work hours and at no cost to employees. If the training cannot take place during work hours, employees must be told in advance and compensated appropriately for their time. 

“Food service workers do really essential work in our schools every day to make sure kids can learn during the school day,” said Sen. Murray in a statement. “Our legislation would make sure these workers get the best training available and that they aren’t being shortchanged for their time—common-sense fixes that will help our schools recruit and maintain a professional and skilled food service workforce.”

A companion bill has also been introduced in the House. 

Maine signs off on new grant funding 

School nutrition programs in Maine will be able to receive fresh grant funding under a new law signed by Gov. Janet Mills.

HB1183 will establish a School Meal Equipment and Program Improvement Fund to provide grants to schools for purchasing kitchen equipment, improving food safety and better managing students’ dietary restrictions. 

Gov. Mills also recently signed a bill into law that will expand the number of farm-to-school products eligible for reimbursement under the state’s Local Foods Fund. 

Massachusetts legislators approve universal free meals

Lawmakers in Massachusetts have passed a state budget that includes funding for universal free meals. 

The $56.2 billion budget will provide free school meals daily to students next school year. The bill now awaits Gov. Maura Healey’s signature. 

Massachusetts was one of several states that continued to provide universal free meals to students after the expiration of a U.S. Department of Agriculture waiver that allowed schools across the country to feed all students for free during the pandemic.

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



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