New Report
Healthy School Meals for All
In order to overcome the educational, health, and economic impacts of the pandemic on children and families, and the financial challenges created by the pandemic for school nutrition departments, Healthy School Meals for All should remain the new normal for all schools across the country. This brief provides a case for why.


Oct 14, 2021
Allyson Perez

The last year-and-a-half has underscored how crucial maintaining access to school lunches is to alleviating childhood hunger and food insecurity. Despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, school nutrition programs across the country have been able to continue serving nutritious school lunches because of national waiver flexibilities, which are available through June 30, 2022. These waivers allow schools to continue serving meals to all students at no charge while also providing the needed flexibility to operate the school nutrition programs under the unique circumstances created by the pandemic.

Oct 13, 2021
Allison Lacko, Senior Nutrition Policy and Research Analyst

In addition to persistently high COVID-19 cases and deaths in the United States, an increasing number of Americans also suffer from diet-related diseases, including heart disease, diabetes cancer, and obesity. Both COVID-19 and diet-related diseases are impacted by poverty and hunger. Furthermore, structural racism drives inequity in hunger, poverty, and poor health.

Oct 12, 2021
Alexis Bylander, Senior Child Nutrition Policy Analyst

This week is National School Lunch Week, a time to recognize the important role that School Nutrition Programs play in reducing food insecurity, supporting academic achievement, and, as a recent study found, providing children throughout the U.S. with healthy meals.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, schools have been able to offer free school meals to all students through waivers from the U.S Department of Agriculture, allowing every child to experience the educational and health benefits linked to school meals. Understanding that offering free school meals to all children needs to continue after the pandemic, California and Maine passed legislation to establish free school meals for all students, regardless of household income, as a permanent part of the school day.

Recent Publications & Data

See More Resources
  • Report

    The Afterschool Nutrition Programs offered an important opportunity to combat hunger during the 2020–2021 school year as communities and families continued to feel the educational, health, and economic impacts of COVID-19. Read the 2021 report to learn more.

    Read the report
  • Fact Sheet

    Annual estimates of food insecurity are released every year from the Census Current Population Survey Food Security Supplement (CPS-FSS). Surveyed participants were interviewed in December 2020 about food insecurity in the prior 12 months. This resource summarizes those findings.

    Learn more
  • Best Practice

    When natural disasters strike, such as, hurricanes, floods, wildfires, earthquakes, and tornados, the Special Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) can employ special “alternative procedures” to help WIC clients and those newly eligible receive timely access to WIC benefits and services. Explore this resource to learn more about how WIC responds.

    Explore the Best Practice
  • Best Practice

    Direct certification has transformed the process of certifying eligible children for free school meals. States can now apply to participate in the Medicaid Direct Certification Demonstration Project and bring the same benefits of direct certification to children, families, and schools that are connected to Medicaid participation. Read this resource to learn more about Medicaid Direct Certification, why your state should apply for the Medicaid Direct Certification Demonstration Project, key deadlines and information, and what states are saying about the positive impacts.

    Explore the Best Practice