McGovern Introduces New Bill to Permanently Increase Federal Reimbursement Level for School Meals

WASHINGTON—Today, U.S. Representative James P. McGovern (D-MA), Ranking Member of the House Rules Committee and a nationwide leader in the fight to end hunger and improve nutrition, introduced legislation permanently increasing the federal reimbursement level for school meals to help address funding challenges, enhance menus, increase access to locally grown food, and support expanded services like afterschool snacks and breakfast in the classroom.

H.R. 1269, the Healthy Meals Help Kids Learn Act, permanently increases the federal reimbursement level for all free, reduced-price, and paid-rate school meals by 45 cents for every lunch served and 28 cents for every breakfast served, with a yearly adjustment. School meals help shape lifelong healthy eating habits, and research shows that students who participate in school meal programs have better overall diet quality than nonparticipants. Higher food costs are adding to the urgency of this legislation, and a permanent solution will give school districts certainty as they upgrade their meal programs and plan for the future.

“If we want America’s kids to remain competitive in the 21st century global economy, we can’t just teach them science and math. We need to ensure they have access to healthy, nutritious food at school,” said Congressman McGovern. “The next generation of Americans—our future doctors, nurses, engineers, mechanics, and leaders in every field across the country—all need us to step up and improve the quality of food in our schools. Food is just as important to their education as a textbook or a laptop. And if we can give our children healthy breakfasts and lunches as a part of their school day while supporting locally sourced foods and scratch-cooked meals, it will be a win-win for our economy, our farmers, and our students.”

“School meal programs face crippling cost increases for the food, labor and supplies that are critical to ensuring students receive nutritious school meals that fuel their success,” said School Nutrition Association President Lori Adkins, MS, SNS, CHE. “When the additional funds Congress provided in the bipartisan Keep Kids Fed Act expire in July, school meal programs will be incapable of covering costs. H.R. 1269 will help avert a financial crisis and ensure school meal programs can continue offering students meals that promote healthy eating habits.”

Endorsed by: School Nutrition Association, American Heart Association, Food Research & Action Center (FRAC), Share our Strength, Save the Children, National Education Association, Mayors Alliance to End Childhood Hunger, Chef Ann Foundation, ScratchWorks, Project Bread, Massachusetts Law Reform Institute (MLRI), Chop Chop Family, School Nutrition Association of Massachusetts, Children’s HealthWatch, Flashfood, MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger, James Beard Foundation, United Way of Central Massachusetts, Council of Massachusetts United Ways, United Way of Tri-County, United Way of Pioneer Valley, Worcester Together, El Buen Samaritano Food Program Inc., Lovin’ Spoonfuls, Seven Hills Foundation, You Inc, Family Services of Central Massachusetts, Children’s Friend, Children’s Aid & Family Services, Guild of St. Agnes, Health Foundation of Central Massachusetts, Food Bank of Northern Nevada, Common Threads, UMass Chan Medical School, Queens Together, DC Central Kitchen, Hunger Free Oklahoma, MetroWest Food Collaborative, Friendly House, Family Health Center of Worcester, Stanford Medicine Children’s Health/Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital, Berkshire United Way, United Way of New Bedford, Regional Environmental Council, Hunger Free America, The Clemente Course in the Humanities, RF Buche, Open Sky Community Services, About Fresh, United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley, YWCA Central Massachusetts, Food Bank of Central New York, Bread for the World, Wellness in the Schools, Neighbors Helping Neighbors, American Commodity Distribution Association, Stone Soup Café, Ohio Association of Food Banks, Feeding Texas, Amherst Survival Center, AASA The School Superintendents Association, California Association of Food Banks, Urban School Food Alliance, YMCA of Central Massachusetts, Feeding New York State, Jeremiah’s Inn, Worcester Area Mission Society, Massachusetts Farm to School, Nourish California, Worcester Interfaith, Jewish Alliance for Law and Social Action (JALSA), Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI), Edward Street, Root Cause Coalition, Association of School Business Officials International (ASBO), Children’s Defense Fund, Our Neighbors’ Table, Latino Education Institute, CENTRO, Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, The Education Trust, Thrive Support & Advocacy, Belmont A.M.E. Zion Church, Worcester Black Clergy Alliance, MA State Rep. Mary Keefe, City of Worcester Mayor Joe Petty, Worcester City Councilor Sarai Rivera, Worcester City Councilor Candy Mero Carlson, Worcester City Councilor Sean Rose, Dr. Rachel Monárrez, Superintendent of Worcester Public Schools, Heidi Paluk, Executive Director, Abby Kelley Foster Charter Public School, MA State Senator Robyn Kennedy