Vermont Business Magazine The Universal School Meals Act, S.100, received preliminary approval from the Vermont House of Representatives on Tuesday.
If passed by the Senate, students in Vermont will continue to receive nutritious school breakfast and lunch for the upcoming school year, at no cost to their families.
The one-year model for the program will provide stability for students and schools while collecting more data about the permanent implementation of Universal School Meals and to see if the federal government acts before the 2023-24 school year. The current federal program expires in June.
Representative Erin Brady, a Democrat from Williston, said from the House floor Tuesday that access to free breakfast and lunch for students served as a “bright spot” in the darkness of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The universal meals program has been built, it is currently serving the needs of students, and school food service directors and teachers overwhelmingly support continuing this important program. Food is not just nutrition, it is also about community, identity and belonging,” she said.
Another lawmaker, Rep. Tanya Vyhovsky, a Progressive/Democrat from Essex, said, “Ensuring that all students eat without stigma will bring important dignity, community and success to all of our Vermont students.”
Vyhovsky continued, “I am so happy to support this bill today, and that we are finally at a point where we are recognizing that not allowing any child to be hungry in a Vermont school is simply the right thing to do.”
Last week supporters gathered for a free lunch at the Statehouse in hopes of encouraging legislators’ support for Universal School Meals.
“This bill is a huge step forward for students, their families and the teachers and staff who want them to thrive.” Anore Horton, Hunger Free Vermont’s executive director, said. “We so appreciate the thoughtful consideration of House members, particularly the House Education Committee.”
The bill will be up for final approval in the House on Wednesday before heading back to the Senate and, ultimately, to the desk of Gov. Phil Scott to be signed into law.
To learn more about the value of Universal School Meals, visit universalschoolmealsvt.org.
About Hunger Free Vermont: Hunger Free Vermont is a statewide nonprofit organization that works with state agencies and community groups to develop sustainable hunger solutions. Since 1993 Hunger Free Vermont’s outreach programs and advocacy have substantially enhanced Vermont’s nutrition safety net and increased access to nutritious foods.hungerfreevt.org
MONTPELIER, Vermont (April 26, 2022) — Hunger Free Vermont