Minnesota’s universal free meals program as led to an increase in the number of school meals served.
Over 1 million additional school lunches and breakfast were served each month this past fall compared to fall 2022, according to state data.
The state began offering free meals at school to all students this school year after HF 5 was signed into law.
“In Minnesota, we’re not splitting students into the “haves” and “have nots,” Minnesota Governor Tim Walz posted on social media. "We’re feeding our children – and saving hard-working families thousands of dollars a year – on our way to making Minnesota the best state to grow up in.”
Schools in other states that have also begun offering universal free meals have seen a similar uptick in meal participation.
A recent survey of school nutrition operators conducted by the School Nutrition Association (SNA) also revealed that 87.4% of respondents reported an increase in school meal participation after adopting free meal service.
Currently, nine states offer universal free breakfast and lunch at school. Expanding access to universal free meals at school nationwide is one of the propositions outlined in the SNA's 2024 position paper.