I am writing to bring attention to the campaign for Universal School Meals. I strongly support the campaign, which seeks to provide every student with free breakfast and lunch every day, regardless of their family’s income.
As many Vermonters know, the federal government has been providing universal meals to students throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic. As we continue to recover from the pandemic, it is essential we ensure the permanence of this program.
Students benefit from proper nourishment, parents are released from the burden of buying and preparing meals for school-age children, and educators reap the benefits of increased attention and improved behavior in their students. In addition, school meal programs benefit when more students eat school meals, which increases the amount of reimbursement coming into the program and in turn, allows the program to offer more fresh, local, nutritious foods. There are estimates that schools will receive as much as $10 million more dollars in federal reimbursements. Additionally, incentives for local food purchasing will pump more money into the local economy and support Vermont’s large agriculture sector and local farmers.
Now more than ever, as so many families struggle from the financial consequences of the pandemic, it is vital that we provide universal meals to our children and stand with this program that will support our local economy, community and future: our Vermont students.