A new proposal from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) will make free school meals available to nearly all Oregon school children this year, but only if elected leaders take action at the state level.
Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon, along with Oregon Food Bank and a coalition of 30 supporters, are urging the Oregon state legislature to revise House Bill 5014 and ensure that sufficient funding is provided to support Oregon schools. Without the funding provided through HB 5014, Oregon schools that qualify under the new federal rule will not be able to take advantage of that opportunity.
Let’s do right by Oregon’s kids.
David Wieland, Policy Advocate at Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon says:
“There are so many ways a student can fall through the cracks and go hungry at school – paperwork issues, employment changes, meal debt, even stigma. Fortunately, the changes governments made during the pandemic proved there’s a better way..Universal access to meals is good for our schools, good for parents and good for kids — and we have a real chance to make sure everyone has the resources we need to succeed.”
Earlier iterations of the USDA Community Eligibility Provision allowed only “high-poverty” schools to serve free breakfast and lunch to all students who need it, leaving far too many students behind. The new rule will allow hundreds of additional Oregon schools to provide universal meals, as long as state legislators provide funding outlined in House Bill 5014.
By passing a revised HB 5014, Oregon can ensure every child has equal opportunity to succeed in school — no matter where they’re from or how much money their families make. Matt Newell-Ching, Oregon Food Bank Senior Policy Manager, has heard a big need from families and schools that will be impacted.
“We know that offering breakfast and lunch to students at no charge improves educational and health outcomes — and even increases lifetime earning potential. We’ve already heard from district officials across Oregon who are confident their schools will be eligible under the new rule, and they are ready for this change.”
The Situation In Brief:
Currently, “high-poverty” schools can opt into the “Community Eligibility Provision” and serve free breakfast and lunch to all students.
On March 22, 2023 the USDA announced they will lower the threshold for schools that qualify for the “Community Eligibility Provision,” meaning that most schools in Oregon will be eligible.
In order for these schools to implement school meals for all, they will need supplementary state funding from Oregon.
This vital support for Oregon kids can be passed this session through House Bill 5014.