Why universal free school meals matter

“For the first two years of the pandemic, there was such a thing as a free lunch — for public school kids, at least. To blunt a spike in hunger caused by job losses and school closures, the federal government made school meals free, even available as ‘grab and go,’ for virtually all children. But Republicans blocked a renewal of the program last spring, accusing Democrats of exploiting emergency measures to enact lasting changes,” Bridget Huber writes in FERN’s latest story, produced in collaboration with Mother Jones.

“Now the fight has largely shifted to the states: California, Colorado, and Maine permanently made school food free to all students. But in most of the country, cafeterias have returned to the status quo, where kids either pay full price for lunch or get it for a reduced price or for free, depending on their families’ annual income.”

You can read more at FERN or at Mother Jones.