Virginia Senators approve universal free school meals bill

Also in this week’s K-12 legislative update: A Kansas bill would prevent the state from participating in Summer EBT and Ohio lawmakers tackle lunch shaming.
A student holds a tray full of food
Families in Kansas would not be able to participate in the Summer EBT program under a new bill introduced in the House. | Photo: Shutterstock

It’s been a busy week at the state level for school nutrition legislation. Lawmakers in Kansas have introduced a bill that would ban the state from participating in Summer EBT, while lawmakers in Ohio and Virginia tackle lunch shaming and universal free meals.

Here’s the latest in school nutrition legislation.

Kansas bill would prevent state from utilizing Summer EBT

A new bill introduced in Kansas would bar the state from participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) Summer EBT program.

HB 2647 would prevent the state from utilizing the program which provides financial assistance to low-income families so they can purchase food during the summer months when their children are not in school.

Under Summer EBT, families located in states who participate receive $40 per child each month while school is not in session. The federal government covers the benefit costs associated with the program, but participating states are responsible for paying half of the administrative costs.

Earlier this year, a number of states announced they would not participate this year due to costs and the program’s allowance of families to use the funds to purchase food with little nutritional value.

The bill has been referred to the Committee on Welfare Reform.

Ohio lawmakers tackle lunch shaming

Ohio lawmakers have introduced a bill that would ban lunch shaming in the state.

HB 408 would require schools to serve all students meals at school even if they are behind on meal payments. Schools would also be banned from identifying and stigmatizing students who have meal debt.

If signed into law, the state would join North Dakota and others who have banned the practice.

Currently, Ohio covers the cost of school breakfast and lunch for students who qualify for reduced-price meals.

Virginia Senators say yes to universal free meals at school

A universal free school meals bill in Virginia has passed the Senate with a 40-0 vote.

SB 283 would provide free breakfast and lunch daily at school to all public school students in the state. 

The bill is now in the House Committee on Education.

This is the second time lawmakers in the state have tried to pass a law regarding universal free meals at school. 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:



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