It was an active week at the state level for school nutrition legislation. Universal free school meals continues to be a focus, with lawmakers in a handful of states voting on bills that would offer free breakfast and lunch to students at school.
Here’s the latest in school nutrition legislation.
Delaware lunch shaming bill passes its first hurdle
Lawmakers in Delaware have advanced a lunch shaming bill.
Introduced by State Representative Sherry Dorsey Walker, HB 263 would ban schools in the state from preventing students who are behind on school meal payments from participating in school-sponsored activities.
The bill has advanced out of the Committee on Education and is now headed to the house floor for a vote.
Other states, such as North Dakota, have already passed legislation banning the practice.
South Dakota says no to expanding free school meal access
A bill introduced in South Dakota that would have provided free meals to students who qualify for reduced-price meals has been killed.
The House Committee on Education voted 8-7 to kill the bill earlier this week.
If passed, the state would have joined Arizona, Ohio and Louisiana in covering the cost of reduced-price meals at school.
Proposed Rhode Island budget includes funding to cover reduced-price school meals
Meanwhile in Rhode Island, funding to expand free meals at school has been included in Governor Dan McKee’s proposed FY 2025 state budget.
While the budget stops short of offering free school meals to all students, it does include $800,000 to cover meals for students who qualify for reduced-price lunch.
The state estimates that approximately 6,500 additional students would receive free meals at school if the budget were approved.
Washington state lawmakers advance universal free school meals bill
A universal free school meals bill introduced in Washington state is one step closer to becoming law.
HB 2058, which would establish a universal free school meal program in the state, has advanced out of the House Committee on Education. It now heads to the House Appropriations Committee.
The bill builds upon a current law that requires elementary schools in the state to provide free breakfast and lunch this school year if 40% or more of their students qualify for free or reduced-price meals. Elementary schools where between 30% and 40% of students qualify must begin to provide universal free meals starting in the 2024-25 school year.
Virginia lawmakers try again for universal free school meals
Virginia is the latest state to introduce a universal free school meals bill this legislative session.
SB 283 would provide free breakfast and lunch daily at school to all public school students in the state. The bill has already advanced out of the Committee on Education and Health and is now headed to the Senate Finance and Appropriations Committee.
This is not the first time Virginia lawmakers have attempted to pass universal free school meal legislation. Last year, HB 1967 was introduced which would have also set up a universal free school meals program in the state. The bill failed to pass the House Pre-K-12 Education Subcommittee in a 5-3 vote.
See which states currently offer universal free meals via the map below: