This Issue Update newsletter is part of a series that provides more information on each priority issue on the Alliance's 2022 Legislative Agenda. The Legislative Agenda is crafted annually in partnership with early childhood organizations that are advancing legislative policy solutions related to health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education. The nine priority issues were selected by the Alliance's 21 member Steering Committee.


Universal School Meals

Every student should have access to the same things while at school, whether it’s educational opportunities or food. As part of the federal response to the pandemic, students in Vermont have been able to eat school breakfast and lunch at no charge since March 2020. 

These measures are only temporary, however. At the end of the current school year, schools will lose the federal waivers providing universal school meals. Children will once again be divided into categories based on income that determine how much they must pay to receive a meal at school, and face the stigma associated with eating free meals. 

Permanent universal school meals will mean that students will be more ready to learn, and school administrators will have more positive relationships with students’ families.

The Alliance supports Hunger Free Vermont's Universal School Meals Campaign, which is advocating that the state requires all public schools to provide universal school meals beginning in 2022, and that the costs of school meals not covered by federal funding will be paid for through the Education Fund rather than in individual school budgets. 

Last year the Senate passed S.100, a somewhat limited bill that would make universal school breakfast permanent. Right now the bill is in the House Education Committee. Hunger Free Vermont and partners are hopeful that the Committee will amend S. 100 to make both universal school breakfast and lunch permanent, and that the full Legislature will pass the bill this year. 

After nearly two and a half years of universal school meals, going back to the “old” way would be logistically challenging, costly, and bad for both children and school staff. Schools shouldn’t have to scramble to convert their school meal program back to the old, inequitable model. And students should not have meals taken away from them next school year. No child should have to learn what hunger feels like while at school.

Continue reading for more information on this priority issue, including data and talking points, connections to the lead organization, and advocacy tools.


Data and Talking Points

  • Universal School Meals improve student performance in Math and English Language Arts by up to 10 weeks of learning.
  • 72% of staff at Vermont schools with universal school meal programs agree that universal school meals have produced an improved social climate.
  •  64% of Vermont schools currently providing school meals have increased their local food purchasing as a result. 

Lead Organization

Hunger Free Vermont
Hunger Free Vermont is an education and advocacy organization with the mission to end the injustice of hunger and malnutrition for all Vermonters.


Resources and Advocacy Tools


The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is a statewide coalition formed in 2000 of early childhood professionals, parents, organizations, businesses, and strategic partners committed to improving public policies that impact young children between birth and age eight in the areas of health, safety, food security, economic security, and early care and education.

The Alliance crafts an annual Legislative Agenda in partnership with early childhood organizations, provides year-round advocacy support, and facilitates meaningful interactions with policymakers at key times during the decision making process.


7 School Street | Montpelier , Vermont 05602

The Vermont Early Childhood Advocacy Alliance is a program of the Vermont Community Loan Fund.

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