During the pandemic, the United States Department of Agriculture temporarily offered free school meals every school day to all students at no charge, but this federal provision ended in June 2022. As a result, California became the first state to expand the universal meals program beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. Other states considering expansion of free school meals may be following current research on the impact of free school meals in California. The New York Times invited Monica Zuercher, a project scientist with the Nutrition Policy Institute, to share her knowledge of free school meals. Zuercher was featured in The New York Times for Kids article titled ‘What if every kid got a free lunch?' by Katherine Cusumano in which she spoke to research-proven benefits of free school meals, particularly better attendance rates and improved health outcomes. Research on states that operate a free school meal program illustrate benefits and feasibility of free school meals programs for other states to follow. The New York Times for Kids article ‘What if every kid got a free lunch?' was published in print on January 29, 2023. The Nutrition Policy Institute documents further resources, research, and publications on School Meals for All on the Nutrition Policy Institute website Resources tab.
Author - Graduate Student
Editor - Assistant Project Scientist
Editor - Director of the Nutrition Policy Institute and Cooperative Extension Nutrition Specialist