Access to healthy food is a human right.
Food is foundational to economic health and stability.
All children should receive free school meals.
Free school meals create equity and community by ensuring that every student has the nutrition they need to learn and thrive. In turbulent times, universal school meals also ensure that school is a place where communities are created, not divided.
Policies should be evaluated for their impact on diversity, equity & inclusion.
Systemic racism is embedded in many long-standing policies and programs. Now is the time to ensure that we are employing an equity lens when adopting or adjusting policies. We are committed to systems thinking policies and practices that promote racial and ethnic diversity and provide equity and inclusion for people from all different backgrounds and life experiences.
School meals ensure that every child gets the best start on life and learning. Work can be done at the National, State and County levels to improve every child’s access to school meals. At the federal level, Child Nutrition reauthorization is a vehicle to greatly improve these programs nationwide.
- Universal School Meals: School meals ensure that every child gets the best start on life and learning and are a crucial part of building community. Work can be done at all levels of government to improve every child’s access to school meals.
- California State Support of Universal School Meals: In the 2020 legislative session, Second Harvest was a co-sponsor of Assemblymember Berman’s bill to fill financial gaps, allowing more schools to take advantage of federal universal meals programs. Our advocacy has helped bring the issue to the forefront and we are working with our representatives and policy partners to ensure major State investments in universal meals programs in the upcoming session. Small financial gaps can be filled to operate these programs, drawing down more federal dollars (as much as a 1:10 ratio) while feeding more kids.
- County Support of Universal School Meals: With the partnership and financial support of our County governments and Offices of Education, Second Harvest has supported the enrollment of 63 schools in 13 school districts in universal meals programs. This means over 19,000 children will receive free meals at schools.
- Summer EBT: Access to summer meals has always been challenging, given that they can only be offered in very specific areas, at certain times. USDA should expand the use of Summer EBT nationwide. During COVID-19, Congress authorized Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) which provided money on debit cards to families whose children were missing school meals. This experiment proved that accessibility to food over the summer can be increased through the combination of traditional summer meals programs and innovative efforts like Summer EBT.