School Meals: Federal Investments to Sustain Historic Change

Published on Sep 10, 2021 in Child Nutrition, School-Aged Children

Calling for Federal Investments in Child Nutrition

The House Education & Labor Committee just voted to approve critical investments in child nutrition including

  • Expanding eligibility and increasing federal reimbursement to offer meals free of charge to many more students via the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) through June 2030.
  • Giving states the option to offer free meals to all via statewide CEP through June 2030-- and providing increased federal reimbursement to help make that possible.

This overhaul of federal eligibility criteria and federal reimbursements for school meals helps to account for true levels of need among our students.

Of course, children need access to nutritious meals every day, not just during the school year. Summer EBT, a program that helps families purchase food for their children, is proven to fight hunger and nourish kids when they don't have access to school meals.

The House Education & Labor Committee also voted to extend Summer EBT nationwide through September 2029. Under this change,  students who meet federal eligibility criteria for free or reduced-price school meals (including all students enrolled in schools that use Provision 2, Provision 3, or CEP) could receive Summer EBT.

What Does this Mean for California?

Thanks to new state laws, in the 2022-23 academic year, all students will have access to free school meals. Those meals will help students learn, grow, and achieve at their fullest potential.

Read this fact sheet to see state and county data on the number of CA students currently eligible for free school meals and impacts of offering meals free to all.

Federal resources are needed to sustain this historic change for California kids. The federal budget reconciliation process, including the investments advanced by the House Education & Labor Committee, can help make those resources a reality.

The Weeks Ahead

In addition to the child nutrition provisions from the House Education & Labor Committee, other House committees are moving forward significant investments for budget reconciliation. In the weeks ahead, we will have to fight hard to keep those investments. As key decisions are being made, all members of Congress need to hear from you: funding for school meals, Summer EBT, and greater economic relief must be included in the final budget reconciliation. This is a tremendous opportunity to advance transformative change.

Please stay tuned for updates and calls to action. Read on to learn what you can do right now.

What You Can Do

We applaud the House Education & Labor Committee for approving essential investments in the health and well being of our children. We urge Congress to pass the Build Back Better Act (budget reconciliation) with all of the important child nutrition provisions adopted by the committee.

Please ask your members of Congress to support investments in school meals, Summer EBT, and other resources to nourish children. Using the form below, you can send a personalized message in just a few minutes.


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