What families lost when the US lost universal free school meals

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, federal policymakers acted quickly and decisively to make school meals available to all children at no charge.  

This policy remained in effect for two and a half years. It was a game-changer. Across the country, school nutrition staff reported numerous benefits in the Food Research & Action Center’s (FRAC) Large School District Report, including removing the stigma from program participation and eliminating school meal debt to the benefit of both families and school districts.

The policy also helped address household food insecurity, which rose significantly due to COVID-19 and allowed an additional 10 million students to eat free meals at school each day. 

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