Lawmakers in Michigan have introduced a bill that would make the state’s universal free meal program permanent.
Students are currently receiving free meals this school year thanks to funding in the state’s budget, however, the meals are set to expire this summer.
Senate Bill 500 would make free meals for all public school students a permanent part of the school day. It would also allow disabled students age 26 and under who are enrolled in special education programs to also receive meals at no charge.
The bill has been referred to the Committee on Education.
Michigan is one of a handful of states that has continued to offer free meals to students after pandemic-era waivers from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that allowed all schools to feed students for free expired in June 2022.
Since COVID-19, the push for universal free meals at school has grown. The School Nutrition Association continued to advocate for feeding every child at no charge in its latest position paper, and other leaders in the food industry have also backed free meals for kids.