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. (No paywall)
With Congress in the early stages of updating child nutrition programs costing $30 billion a year, researchers say the nutritional quality of school meals increased by more than 40 percent following a 2010 mandate to serve healthier food. The first comprehensive study of the 2010 reforms also found that student participation rates were highest in the schools that served higher-quality meals.