During the 2013 legislative session, the legislature and the Governor backed bills replicating the 2008 school breakfast measure for school lunch, making Vermont the first state in the country to eliminate the reduced price school meal category for families. This means that all students under 185% of poverty will receive both free breakfast and lunch.
Hunger Free Vermont was joined by school food service personnel throughout the state, along with superintendents, principals, teachers, school nurses, school board members, and business managers to advocate for this change. Many students whose family income falls between 130-185% of the poverty line, and who therefore fall into the reduced-price category, do not have even two extra dollars a week to purchase lunch, and do not have extra food at home for a packed lunch. These students go without lunch, even though they are enrolled in school meal programs. Without healthy meals during the day, students’ ability to focus, learn, and perform is compromised—along with their health.
We know how successful this measure has been for kids in our state’s breakfast programs as we have seen a 185% increase in breakfast participation since 2008. Hunger Free Vermont has been advocating for this for the past three years and we are thrilled that Vermont has taken this important step which supports students, working families, and school communities.
This measure also makes good financial sense for
Because this measure will cause more eligible students to participate in their school meal programs, schools will serve more meals, and will therefore receive more federal reimbursements. The $322,000 per year contributed by the state General Fund will bring in over $380,000 in additional federal reimbursement funds to Vermont school meal programs. Combined with the elimination of reduced-price student cafeteria debts, these additional federal funds will help to stabilize school meal programs, and allow them to spend more on improving meal quality and purchasing fresh, local food for our students.