Five states had Healthy School Meals for All policies in place during the 2022-2023 school year and the Food Research & Action Center’s (FRAC) new report, The State of Healthy School Meals for All: California, Massachusetts, Maine, Nevada and Vermont Lead the Way, highlights the positive impact they had on students and school nutrition departments.
School meals have always played an important role in reducing childhood hunger, supporting good nutrition, and ensuring that students can get the most out of their school day. For more than two school years during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were able to offer meals to all students at no charge through the pandemic-related child nutrition waivers offered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This served as a trial run for nationwide Healthy School Meals for All, and it was a resounding success.
The Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) recently named Salaam Bhatti as its Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) director. In this position, Salaam wields his expertise on SNAP, previous experience as public benefits attorney and deputy director of the Virginia Poverty Law Center (VPLC), and lived experience in poverty to advance policies to protect and strengthen SNAP, including advocating for a strong Farm Bill that strengthens benefit adequacy and equitable access to the program.
In this video, FRAC’s Chief Program Officer, Kelly Horton joins Salaam in a conversation on how his previous experiences advocating for SNAP informs his work, FRAC’s SNAP goals in protecting and strengthening SNAP benefit adequacy and equitable access to the program, and how advocates can get involved.
The permanent, nationwide Summer Electronic Benefit Transfer (Summer EBT) Program is set to begin in summer 2024. Thirty-five states, Washington, D.C. , all five territories, and four Inter-Tribal Organizations (ITOs) have committed to operating the program, providing families with a $120 grocery benefit for each child in the household eligible for free or reduced-price school meals.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture Food and Nutrition Services (USDA FNS) has issued an Interim Final Rule (IFR) that details how states must implement and operate the program. Much of the language in this rule reflects what USDA FNS has released in prior guidance documents, including their latest Questions and Answers document. Because it is an interim final rule, there is an opportunity to submit comments on the rule, which are due on or before April 29, 2024.