Mass. Lawmakers Looking To Make Free School Meals Program Permanent

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — A bipartisan proposal to make school meals free for all Massachusetts students permanently was brought forth to the State House Thursday.

The new legislation (HD 766/SD 1013) filed by Rep. Andres Vargas and Sen. Sal DiDomenico would expand upon the pandemic-era policy to give students free breakfast or lunch in school without providing income or other eligibility information.

Massachusetts was one of the only states in the country which continued to give free meals to students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Supporters of the program say it would alleviate food insecurity and provide economic relief for families struggling to pay for higher grocery bills due to inflation.

"We know enough through research and our constituents that the last three years of school meals have been essential to families across the Commonwealth," Vargas said in a State House hearing room Thursday.

"We cannot afford not to feed kids in our schools," said DiDomenico, pointing to the money that goes towards schools in Massachusetts. "All that goes to waste if our kids come to school hungry, unready to learn."

The legislation calls for schools to use federal funding to pay for the meals, and for the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education to fill the gaps for uncovered costs, although the total cost of the bill is still being determined.

In July 2022, former Gov. Charlie Baker and lawmakers agreed to a one-year extension of free school meals for students, with over $110 million allocated in the state budget.

WBZ's Madison Rogers (@MadisonWBZ) reports.

Follow WBZ NewsRadio: Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | iHeartmedia App

Sponsored Content

Sponsored Content