Oct 10, 2023

National School Lunch Week Highlights the Powerful Role That School Meals Play

This week (October 9–13, 2023) is National School Lunch Week. Our partners at the School Nutrition Association are celebrating with the theme “Level Up with School Lunch”, and school nutrition staff and students across the country will be celebrating in cafeterias with special events, menus, and decorations.

The School Nutrition Programs are indeed something to celebrate. School breakfast and lunch are fundamental to the success of students and teens at school — reducing child hunger, improving student behavior, supporting academic achievement, and helping to build a sense of community. School breakfast and lunch also help to reduce food costs for families.

Oct 04, 2023

Making the Case for Healthy School Meals for All in Maryland  

School meals have long served as our nation’s first line of defense against childhood hunger. We know that school meals contribute to better academic performance, attendance, and nutrition. However, after the loss of COVID-19 pandemic support that allowed meals to be served for free to all students, many families and school systems are struggling to readjust to the tiered payment system that has historically excluded too many children in need. Last school year (2022–2023) was the first academic year after the pandemic, where schools again had to collect forms and payments for school meals.

Oct 03, 2023

Celebrating Latinx Advocates during Hispanic Heritage Month

Last month began the celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. The observation started in 1968 under President Lyndon Johnson and was expanded in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15.

During this celebration, it is important to note the disparity that the COVID-19 pandemic and hunger have had on this community. Latinx and Black communities were disproportionately impacted during the pandemic, as hunger rose despite federal pandemic aid.

It is also important to note the amazing Latinx advocates across the country who are leading the charge to end hunger and poverty. The following are 12 advocates we want to highlight.

Sep 29, 2023

Community Eligibility Expansion: An Important Step Toward Healthy School Meals for All

After receiving thousands of supportive comments, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) released their final rule, Community Eligibility Provision: Increasing Options for Schools, which provides 3,000 additional school districts the opportunity to offer nutritious meals to all students at no cost. Since its inception, the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) has been instrumental in eliminating stigma, reducing burdens on families and districts, and ensuring that all students have access to free healthy school meals, no matter their families’ household income level.

The final rule, effective October 26, 2023, lowers the eligibility threshold from 40 percent to 25 percent, thus increasing millions of students’ access to nutritious school meals. Newly eligible schools that want to participate this school year (SY 2023–24) are encouraged to work with their state agency to submit a waiver to USDA.

Sep 29, 2023

Supporting Equity in Puerto Rico: Switching from NAP to SNAP

This month marks the sixth anniversary of Hurricane Maria, which had devastating impacts on Puerto Rico. Maria was one of the worst storms to ever hit the island and the deadliest natural disaster on a U.S. territory in 100 years. Since then, the island has seen earthquakes, tropical storms, and hurricanes, including Fiona in 2022, impacting and sometimes halting the recovery process for Maria. While the resilience of its residents continues, so does an increase in food insecurity.
Unlike in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands, in Puerto Rico residents – who are United States Citizens – do not receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. Instead, Puerto Rico receives the Nutrition Assistance Program (NAP), which is structured differently from SNAP. This is a result of the Reagan administration’s severe budget cuts in the 1980s to what was then called the Food Stamp Program (FSP). Part of the budget cuts included excluding Puerto Rico from SNAP, which automatically reduced aid by 25 percent.