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Missouri becomes latest state to consider universal free school meals

A state lawmaker has pre-filed a bill that would provide free breakfast and lunch at school to all public school students.
Students receive food in the cafeteria
Photo: shutterstock

A lawmaker in Missouri has pre-filed a bill that would provide free school meals to all students in the state.

HB No. 172 would guarantee that students in public schools receive free breakfast and lunch each school day. The bill will be introduced next month at the start of the new legislative session. If passed, it would go into effect at the start of the 2023-2024 school year.

Missouri is not the only state that is currently looking at providing universal free school meals. A lawmaker in South Carolina also pre-filed a bill earlier this month that would provide free meals to all students in the state.

Over the past year, many other states have decided to offer free school meals after the U.S. Department of Agriculture waivers that allowed schools to serve free meals to all students during pandemic expired.

States such as Nevada and Vermont have decided to offer free meals for this school year only, while other states such as Colorado have decided to offer them permanently.

Support for universal free meals at school is growing. At the White House’s Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health held in September, food industry leaders advocated for serving free meals at school to all students. The School Nutrition Association has also pushed for universal free school meals over the past couple of years.

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