More than 21 million American children now attend schools that offer free meals regardless of family income — a tenfold increase from 2010. Photo Credit: Will Warasila for The New York Times

Society United States15. June 2024

The Rise of Free School Meals for Everyone

More and more schools across the United States offer students free meals regardless of family income.

“They saw the huge benefits of providing free meals to all students: supporting families, supporting kids, changing the culture of the cafeteria,” says Crystal FitzSimons, the director of child nutrition programs and policy at the nonprofit Food Research and Action center.

This transition toward free meals for all students is relatively recent, with the first major bill passed in 2010. Currently, 21 million American children attend schools offering free meals to all, a tenfold increase from 2010. Markedly, school meals are the United States’s second-largest food safety net, just after food stamps. Universal school meals mean students can learn better, with research suggesting it could even lead to improved test scores, attendance, and behaviour. However, the program has not gone without criticism, as the money needed to fund it is often pulled from already-existing education funds. However, it seems to be positively impacting the schools that have already implemented the program and is likely to become more commonplace across the nation.

NY Times

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