Rep. Stanley Supports Universal School Meals Legislation
Rep. Stanley submitted written testimony to the Chairs of the Education Committee urging for favorable action on legislation relative to universal school meals. Rep. Stanley is also a co-sponsor of the bill which will guarantee every student breakfast and lunch, free of charge, across all public schools in the Commonwealth. The House Ways and Means fiscal year 2023 budget includes $110 million for free breakfast and lunch for next school year (2022-2023).
Under the bill, school districts would still receive federal reimbursement for every meal served, but the state would cover the remaining costs. The bill would also require the Department of Transitional Assistance (DTA) to work with school districts to promote the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) via application assistance or a direct referral to an outreach partner.
During the pandemic, school meals became a primary source of food for nearly 400,000 children and their families. When schools shut down in March 2020, the federal government made changes to its school nutrition program, opening access to free meals for thousands of families while also relieving overburdened school meals managers from the undesirable tasks of determining which students need to pay full price, a reduced rate, or nothing at all. With these changes, some districts saw an increase of up to 40% of students requesting free school meals.