USDA final rule expands free meal access at high-poverty schools

Date Published: 
October 17th, 2023

From K-12 Dive:

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said in a statement called the final rule “an important step” toward achieving President Joe Biden’s commitment to create a pathway for 9 million more students to receive free school meals by 2032.

“Increasing access to free, healthy school breakfast and lunch will decrease childhood hunger, improve child health and student readiness, and put our nation on the path to better nutrition and wellness,” Vilsack said.

More schools have adopted the Community Eligibility Provision since the June 2022 expiration of a pandemic-era waiver that allowed students in schools nationwide to receive free meals regardless of their family’s income. 

In fact, the number of schools and districts participating in the program rose 21% during the 2022-23 school year, according to a report from the Food Research & Action Center. The report found 6,935 additional schools adopted CEP that school year, bringing the number of enrolled schools to 40,235. 

Read K-12 Dive's article "USDA final rule expands free meal access at high-poverty schools."

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