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Maryland School Meals For All

Why healthier school meals for all?

Access to food should not be something any kid should worry about, especially when studies show healthier eating helps kids retain information better and become less distracted. Healthier food access helps growing brains work better. But, many kids don’t have access to healthier foods, which could impact their education. All kids, regardless of their families ability to provide healthier food, deserve the best chance to learn all they can. This is why healthier school meals for all is an issue important for all families and communities.

Aren’t school meals available for all students now?

Before 2020, school meals were provided to families meeting a certain threshold of the federal poverty line. In the start of the COVID 19 pandemic, the federal government recognized that family incomes could be greatly impacted and provided funding to cover school meals for all students in K-12 in the US. Recently, the federal Universal School Meals program ended, which means millions of students will now become ineligible for free or reduced school meals.

How would healthier school meals for all help families?

For many families, their income can be unstable, which means their ability to qualify for free or reduced lunch could fluctuate greatly from week to week. With over 8 million US children experiencing food insecurity, the end of the federal universal school meals program will put many children at risk of not having adequate food or nutrition to perform at their best at school. Think about it – do you do your best work when you’re hungry? Why are we asking kids to work hungry?

Why not just provide school meals to students in need like before?

While ending universal school meals impacts families experiencing food insecurity, it also impacts families who are more food secure. With busy schedules and the hectic realities of life today, parents and caregivers find it difficult to prepare breakfast or lunch for their kids. This means many families resort to quick and less healthy breakfast choices like toaster pastries or stopping by a gas station on the way to school for a premade meal loaded with less healthy things. Healthier school meals help families take one more thing off their plate while ensuring all students have access to healthier meals.

All of this is why we cannot move backwards and permanently lose healthier school meals for all and we must support efforts to provide all students in Maryland with universal school meals.

How does this help the school and the district?

We know school meals for all is a proven strategy to address food insecurity among youth as well as their families. It helps close gaps in educational inequality and provides families a little more breathing room in their wallets….and their mornings. What’s more, it also frees up schools from having to manage school meal eligibility and payment, saving money and putting focus on the health and well-being of students – not whether they can afford to eat today.

How does this support the well-being of students?

Kids don’t really have much of a say in what they can afford or what is provided to them, nor should they. They need to focus on learning and growing, not whether they can afford to eat that day. School meals for all also reduces the stigma of being food insecure, because when everyone gets a meal you don’t stand out as the one who qualifies for free meals. This can help reduce bullying and improve equity among children. For so many reasons, students deserve secure and equal access to school meals at no cost. The education of our kids is priceless – and their access to healthier food while at school should be as well.

What can I do to help?

Join our efforts today and stand with us in support of healthier school meals for all Maryland youth. Sign our pledge, share your story, or let us know you want to speak up in your community to help ensure school meals at no cost so we can help build longer, healthier lives for Maryland families.

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