Free and reduced price meal application data are used to allocate billions of dollars annually in education funding. However, schools serving universal free meals under the Community Eligibility Provision meal service option or USDA’s COVID-19 waivers do not typically collect school meal applications. The loss of this data has caused confusion among school administrators about potential impacts on education funding. As a result, this research brief aims to: (1) Provide an overview of universal free school meal benefits and approaches; (2) Summarize the intersections between universal free school meal approaches and educational funding; and (3) Identify opportunities for policy and practice to address the intersections between school meals and educational funding in order to improve access to school meals.
Improving Access to Free School Meals: Addressing Intersections Between Universal Free School Meal Approaches and Educational Funding
Schools play a vital role in promoting children’s health and well-being. In the United States, schools contribute significantly to children’s overall diet quality and can provide up to half of their daily calories, especially among children from low-income families. Providing healthy school meals for all is a policy opportunity to … More
Strengthening the Impact of USDA’s Child Nutrition Summer Feeding Programs During and After the COVID-19 Pandemic
To address food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, utilization of the USDA child nutrition summer feeding programs has drastically increased. Given the unprecedented use of the summer feeding programs, this research brief will (1) explain the meal pattern requirements and select operational differences between the summer feeding programs and the … More
Universal School Meals and Associations with Student Participation, Attendance, Academic Performance, Diet Quality, Food Security, and Body Mass Index: A Systematic Review
The school environment plays an important role in children’s diets and overall health, and policies for universal free school meals have the potential to contribute to positive child health outcomes. This systematic review evaluates studies examining the association between universal free school meals and students’ school meal participation rates, diets, … More