The Massachusetts Legislature passed a historic budget of $56.2 billion that includes $171.5 million to provide universal free school meals to all students, a policy set to end hunger for generations of students.
In a groundbreaking move, the Massachusetts Legislature has taken a significant step towards making free school meals a permanent fixture in the state.
The legislature passed a $56.2 billion budget on Monday, which includes a substantial allocation of $171.5 million “to require public schools to provide universal school meals to all students free of charge.” The bill now awaits approval from Governor Maura Healey.
Since the onset of the pandemic, students in Massachusetts have benefited from free school meals. According to the Feed Kids campaign, this initiative led to an increase of 56,000 more children consuming school lunches every day in October 2022, compared to the same period in 2019.
The tweet below verifies the news:
Massachusetts passes budget that would make free school meals permanent https://t.co/LOLdZkTLC9
— WBZ | CBS Boston News (@wbz) August 1, 2023
The potential permanence of free school meals has garnered widespread support from advocacy groups and political figures. Erin McAleer, president, and CEO of Project Bread, expressed excitement about the prospect, stating that making this policy permanent would be a historic victory. She believes it has the potential to “reimagine the system as we know it” and bring the state closer to eradicating hunger among students for generations to come.
U.S. Representative Jim McGovern also lauded the Massachusetts Legislature for including free school meals in the budget. He emphasized the life-changing impact of this policy, stating that no child in the state would have to face the school day on an empty stomach if the bill is signed into law.
The move to make free school meals a permanent offering in Massachusetts is a significant step forward in addressing food insecurity among students. The budget’s approval reflects a collective effort to ensure that all children have access to nutritious meals, regardless of their socioeconomic background, ultimately promoting better educational outcomes and well-being for the state’s youth.
As the bill awaits Governor Maura Healey’s approval, anticipation and hope surround the potential transformation of school meal programs in Massachusetts. If it becomes law, this initiative could serve as a model for other states seeking to address food insecurity and create a more equitable and inclusive educational environment for all students.
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