Thank Governor Healey and the Legislature for Making School Meals for All Permanent in Massachusetts!
The National School Lunch Program has provided meals for millions of students every year, for over 75 years. These meals have been a critical source of nutrition for kids by improving health and education outcomes for all who participate.
Since 2020, Massachusetts has continued to extend access to meals to all students. Free meals at school has a wealth of benefits. They improve students’ physical and mental health, increase administrative savings for schools, relieve financial stress from families, eliminate stigma, and strengthen school community. Free school meals for students also parlays significant savings in healthcare costs in the Commonwealth, as new research for Tufts University finds.
New research from Tufts University proves that continuing a School Meals for All policy can save Massachusetts $152 million in direct medical costs and productivity annually among adults. Reliable nutrition is critical for children to establish healthy eating patterns that protect them through adulthood.
This estimate is based on data from March 2022 that found with School Meals for All, the percentage of children eating school breakfast every day nearly doubled, from 11.5% to 22.1%, with lunch participation rose from 50.8% to 64.5%.
School meals are the most reliable source of nutrition for many children, and can account for up to half of a child’s daily calorie intake. Free meals at school help children learn and be active in the short term, and thrive academically, physically, and emotionally in the long term.
By ensuring all meals are free, we remove barriers such as stigma or cost ensuring all students can take part in school breakfast and lunch.
As the federal funding for School Meals for All ends this summer break, Massachusetts has invested $175 million in state funding to continue to offer free meals through the 2022-2023 school year.
Lawmakers are currently deciding the Fiscal Year 2024 state budget, and are considering the MA House of Representatives’ proposal to make Universal School Meals permanent in our state.
Project Bread urges lawmakers to consider the numerous benefits to education, health, and household economic well-being from this new research, and commit to feeding children by making School Meals for All permanent.
Urge lawmakers to protect the health of every child by making School Meals for All permanent in Massachusetts this budget session.