Published: July 2021

Publisher: Healthy Eating Research

Authors: Hecht AA, Dunn CG, Turner L, Fleischhacker S, Kenney E, Bleich SN

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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.

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