Universal School Meals
Every student should have access to the same things while at school, whether it’s educational opportunities or food. From March 2020 through June 2022, all students across the country had access to Universal School Meals via federal waivers. When it was announced that those waivers were set to expire last year, the Legislature took action and passed Act 151, which extended Universal School Meals through the ‘22-’23 school year, with the Legislature expressing their intent to make the program permanent.
The Alliance supports Hunger Free Vermont's Universal School Meals Campaign, which is advocating that the state continues to require all public schools to serve breakfast and lunch to all students, every day, at no cost to themselves or their families. Hunger Free Vermont advocates for the permanent funding to support this requirement come from the state Education Fund.
While a bill is being drafted to accomplish this goal, committee testimony has already started. Hunger Free Vermont has testified in the Senate Education Committee, and has testimony scheduled this week in the newly-minted House Agriculture, Food Resiliency, and Forestry Committee.
Additionally, next week, on Wednesday January 25, Hunger Free Vermont will be hosting “School Nutrition Day” at the State House. School nutrition advocates from across the state will be in the building, handing out “grab-and-go” breakfast items like those served to kids in schools, sharing their stories in testimony before committees, and lobbying legislators.
We hope some of you will join us next week -- you’ll see us around the building, come say hello!
Data and Talking Points
- Universal School Meals improve student performance in Math and English Language Arts by up to 10 weeks of learning.
- 96% of School Nutrition Professionals support permanent funding for Universal School Meals.
- Prior to the pandemic, 64% of VT schools already providing Universal School Meals had increased their local food purchasing as a result.
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. Hunger Free Vermont knows that they will never permanently end hunger until they transform the systems that hold hunger in place. That's why they advocate for policies that create both food security and economic security. Livable wages, racial justice, access to safe and affordable housing, vibrant local food systems, dignity in all programs supporting people in need, policies like paid family and medical leave and tax credits that benefit working people, and more will all work together to end hunger.