Research brief examines benefits of Massachusetts’ Healthy School Meals for All policy on families

Mar 12, 2024

A recent research brief from researchers at Merrimack College and the Nutrition Policy Institute highlights the impact of the Massachusetts Healthy School Meals for All policy on families. The policy was implemented in 2022, aiming to alleviate financial burdens for families by providing free school meals for all students. A sample of 284 parents selected to be representative of the state completed a survey, revealing strong support for the  policy across all income brackets. Families reported numerous benefits of the policy, including financial savings, time efficiency, and reduced stress as well as improved student behavior and academic achievement. Moreover, survey results demonstrated that if the policy ended, parents believe there would be an increase in the stigma associated with receiving meal assistance which could prevent some children from consuming school meals. This research brief helps support the continuation of the Healthy School Meals for All policy as well as future efforts to expand access to nutrition programs in schools. This research brief was developed by Juliana Cohen with Merrimack College and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Nutrition Policy Institute researchers Wendi Gosliner, Christina Hecht, Ken Hecht, Monica Zuercher, and Lorrene Ritchie, and Marlene Schwartz from the University of Connecticut Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health, and. This research was funded by The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Healthy Eating Research and Project Bread.