In June, Congress passed the Keep Kids Fed Act, much-needed legislation that helps kids access free school meals through the summer. This is a major win in the fight for free schools meals for all!
At the beginning of the pandemic, Congress made it possible for schools to provide free meals to children regardless of how much money their families made—in addition to giving schools higher meal reimbursements and more flexibility in serving meals. This made it easier to keep kids fed during the school year and summer months.
That flexibility was set to expire June 30, meaning millions of children would have lost access to free school meals. But just in the nick of time, Congress passed the Keep Kids Fed Act, which:
Extends free meals through the summer;
Provides higher meal reimbursement rates through the next school year and for meals served in child care;
Continues waivers that make it easier for schools to serve meals; and
Funds nearly $1 billion for schools to purchase food, helping schools that continue to face deficits due to higher costs and labor shortages.
While this is a victory for kids this summer, our work is far from over.
Schools and families continue to reel from the effects of the pandemic. Come this fall, without a permanent solution for free school meals for all, families will once again have to apply for free or reduced-price meals—an administrative burden on low-income families that might leave many children falling through the cracks. Schools will now have to expend precious resources administering this process than focusing solely on feeding kids. Kids will be forced yet again to stand in different lines or receive different meals from their classmates. And once again, families will face school meal debt.
CSPI will continue to push Congress to make free school meals for all a reality—because every child should have access to a healthy school meal.