Pittsburgh, Pa. − August 18, 2022 − Senator Lindsey M. Williams, Minority Chair of the Senate Education Committee, announced today that she will introduce legislation that will provide free school meals to all students.
At the beginning of the pandemic, the Federal government took action to ensure that all students had access to free breakfast and lunch. However, this access to universal school meals is set to expire at the beginning of the 2022-23 school year, which is right around the corner for the Commonwealth’s students and families. While the Federal government has taken some steps to help schools facing rising food, gas, and labor costs, unfortunately nothing has been done yet to help Pennsylvania’s students and families enduring the same financial strain.
“The return to paying for school breakfast and lunches is especially going to hurt families just above the income-eligibility guidelines for the free and reduced meals program,” said Senator Williams. “As we see prices rising at the grocery stores, now is not the time to take away reliable, nutritious meals from students.”
Earlier this month, Senator Williams and her Democratic colleagues on the Senate Education Committee sent a letter to Governor Tom Wolf and Acting Secretary of Education Eric Hagarty asking the Administration to take any steps available to extend access to free school meals for all students for the upcoming school year. This action is supported by the School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania (SNAPa). Their President, Megan Schaper, wrote a letter to the editor last week applauding this action, saying “The past two years have shown us how students and educators benefit when school meals are free for all kids. School meals reduce childhood hunger, decrease childhood obesity, support learning and contribute to positive mental and physical health.” You can read the full letter at: https://www.centredaily.com/opinion/letters-to-the-editor/article264363446.html#storylink=cpy.
“While we remain hopeful that the Governor will take administrative action for this upcoming school year, this bill will ensure that we are ready to act legislatively if necessarily,” continued Senator Williams. “Whether we’re helping a student who forgot their lunch at home, a parent struggling with the loss of a job, or a family just trying to make ends meet, ensuring that every student has access to breakfast and lunch with no shame or stigma is one of the most commonsense ways we can help our kids be ready to learn every single day.”