Pittsburgh, PA − May 22, 2023 − Senator Lindsey M. Williams applauded the Fox Chapel Area School Board for passing Resolution 2023-2 in support of her Universal School Meals legislation at their most recent School Board Meeting on May 8, 2023.
This resolution, a copy of which can be found on Senator Williams’ website, highlights the success of the current Pennsylvania Universal School Breakfast program, which began on October 1, 2022 and will continue through the end of this current school year. The program is a response to a call to action from Senator Williams, other legislators, and advocates following the termination of Federal funding and waivers that had provided free breakfast and lunch for all students during the pandemic.
Senator Williams and Senator Judy Schwank (D-Berks) have introduced Senate Bill 180 that will codify the Universal School Meals program, which will provide all students both breakfast and lunch and also erase existing lunch debt, allowing school districts to start fresh at the beginning of this new program. Rep. Emily Kinkead (D-20) has introduced companion legislation in the House.
Fox Chapel Area School District has seen a nearly 122% increase in breakfasts served daily since the implementation of Universal School Breakfasts. As the Resolution notes, “multiple studies show that students with access to free breakfast have improved attendance rates… improved participation rates, fewer behavioral incidents, lower suspension rates, and better health outcomes.”
“Having our locally elected School Boards formally support this legislation is incredibly helpful,” said Senator Williams. “Hearing that the Universal School Breakfast program is making a difference to the students, families, teachers, and staff on the ground is wonderful. We can take this Resolution, and others like it, back to Harrisburg to show that this is something that our school districts really see the value in. We need to include the funding for Universal Meals in the FY2023-24 budget to ensure that all students have access to the nutritious meals they need to fuel their brains and bodies for learning.”
Mt. Lebanon School District and Bethel Park School District passed the State’s first resolutions in support of SB 180 and HB 180 in April. Other boards statewide are currently considering similar resolutions.
Governor Shapiro’s inaugural Budget includes a $38.5 million investment to maintain the Universal Free Breakfast Program and expand access to free lunch for students currently receiving reduced price meals.
Individuals can learn more about the Universal School Meals program and how it fits into combatting child hunger here. You can also sign on to be a part of the citizen coalition urging legislators to support Universal School Meals legislation and fight child hunger here.