A child puts her mask back on after finishing lunch at a socially distanced table in the cafeteria of Medora Elementary School on March 17, 2021 in Louisville, Kentucky. (Jon Cherry/Getty Images)
After an especially challenging few years, it looks as though the “looming hunger cliff” might be slightly less steep.
Currently, going into the new 2023-2024 school year, there are eight states that are now offering “permanently free” school breakfast and lunch: California, Maine, Massachussets, Michigan, Vermont, Colorado, New Mexico and Minnesota. As Susan Montoya Bryan writes for The Associated Press, federal aid’s end in spring 2022 resulting in myriad issues for “families that weren’t poor enough, stigmatized those who were, and added to growing school meal debt.” This will undoubtedly bolster the fight against hunger, both in those eight states — and hopefully beyond.
Minnesota “allocated over $440 million for first two years of the program,” according to AP. Alexis Bylander, senior policy analyst for the nonprofit Food Research and Action Center in Washington, D.C., told AP that “momentum is building” in regards to more and more states beginning to adapt similar policies.
“Don’t we want kids to be able to perform well in school and get good, nutritious, healthful meals throughout their learning?” Annette Nielsen asked, who is the executive director of New York City’s Hunter College NYC Food Policy Center. Hopefully, this is just the start of a shift in how hunger is handled going forward.