A New Bill Proposes Free School Lunch for All Students During COVID-19 Pandemic

updated Feb 24, 2021
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Free or low-cost school lunches make up one of the biggest forms of assistance for families experiencing food insecurity in the United States, and when schools closed because of the pandemic, that system — and the people it feeds — were thrown into uncertainty. With nearly a third of families with children around the country experiencing food insecurity during the pandemic, the harder those important and essential services are to access, the more children go hungry.

Now, a group of legislators led by Virginia’s Bobby Scott has written a bill that would address the difficulties in identifying in-need families and getting them food by simply making school lunch a universal, completely free service nationwide.

“Hunger, and especially childhood hunger, has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 crisis,” reports Modern Farmer on the topic. So to combat this, the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act would make money available to ensure that school districts everywhere can provide meals to any student who wants one by either delivery or grab-and-go. 

Importantly, beyond providing the financial resources for the food, it would remove the red tape and paperwork previously required to prove that a hungry kid was “eligible” for the benefit. Previously, children whose families didn’t financially qualify for assistance might have been denied the free meal without consideration of what other circumstances might exist — and beyond that qualification, additional paperwork was required. Still, nearly 30 million children received those meals daily, and now even more kids around the country need them.

“The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act would help address the child hunger crisis, make it easier for schools to operate school meal programs, and provide financial relief to school meal programs that have suffered heavy losses during the pandemic. This legislation will ensure that all children will have access to nutrition during this public health emergency,” says Scott.