The top story in last week’s SNA SmaratBrief, the weekly School Nutrition Association online newsletter, was an article featured in The Conversation that describes how free school meals have improved outcomes in students’ health, reduced stigma around free meals, and provided benefits for overall school foodservice operations. The article, Free school meals for all children can improve kids’ health, supports the Universal School Meals Program Act, a bill currently proposed in Congress. The program would provide free healthy meals and snacks to all children in public and nonprofit private schools regardless of income.
Citing various studies, author Matthew Landry, Stanford University Research Fellow, wrote in this commentary, “I believe the return on investment from universal school lunches would benefit our country’s economic recovery from the pandemic as well as the health and well-being of our country’s children.”
We agree. Our team at E S Foods has been following this issue closely and support efforts to ensure greater access to school nutrition programs. Our recommendations, based on substantial background support, include:
- Address the summer nutrition gap.
- Make the At-Risk Afterschool Meal Program (ASMP) truly accessible to all students who qualify.
- Provide meals during school holidays and breaks.
- Provide weekend meals.
- Provide universal free meals. We align ourselves with FRAC, NEA, Urban School Food Alliance and so many others urging the adoption of universal free school meals because of the tremendous, positive impact this would create.
What started as a business for us at E S Foods has become a passion and a mission. Numerous case studies and research exist to support these suggestions to enhance the health and well-being of our country’s children.