This week, FRAC released its annual report, Community Eligibility: The Key to Hunger-Free Schools, School Year 2022–2023, detailing participation in the Community Eligibility Provision among schools and districts in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.
The 2022–2023 school year marked the end of the pandemic-related child nutrition waivers that allowed schools across the country to offer meals to all their students at no charge since spring 2020. By providing healthy free school meals for all, these waivers ensured that all children, no matter their household income, could reap the academic and health benefits of school breakfast. Despite a strong call for these waivers to be extended through the 2022–2023 school year, many schools were forced to return to the tiered system of certifying children for free, reduced-price, or paid meals.
As schools transitioned back to normal operations for the 2022–2023 school year, community eligibility has facilitated this transition by allowing schools in high-need areas to continue providing free meals to all students without needing to collect applications. As a result, we have seen significant growth in community eligibility participation, which shows the commitment schools across the country have shown to finding ways to continue serving meals to all their students free of charge.
Throughout May, we recognize and support older adults during Older Americans Month. Older adults, defined as someone over 60 years old, make up a large portion of our nation’s capital, as well as a large portion of those experiencing food insecurity and utilizing Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits. According to the Food Research & Action Center, the District of Columbia has one of the highest rates of older adult food insecurity in the nation, with 12.8 percent of older adults experiencing food insecurity. Almost 22,000 of the District’s older adults participate in SNAP (around 16 percent of all SNAP participants).
The D.C. Council recently passed three bills that would increase local support for older adults — the No Senior Hungry Omnibus Amendment Act, the Senior Nutrition, Health, and Well-Being Equity Amendment Act of 2022, and the Give SNAP a Raise Amendment Act.
In recognition of Older Americans Month this May, the Food Research & Action Center is releasing a blog on food insecurity among older adults. The blog focuses on food insecurity’s prevalence and risk factors that make older adults more likely to experience food insecurity.