To the editor:

For the past year and a half, all Massachusetts students have had access to free breakfast and lunch at schools statewide. As a professional in the anti-hunger space, I can attest to the importance of this vital resource for families who now face an extreme “cliff” when federal waivers enabling schools to serve meals to all students at no cost dissolve at the end of the 2021-22 school year.

According to Children’s HealthWatch, food insecurity costs Massachusetts $2.4 billion every year. But we know one thing that works: school meals for all.

School meals are one of the most powerful tools for ending food insecurity among children. California and Maine recently passed monumental legislation to make universal school meals a reality for every student.

Allowing all students to receive free school meals will end the stigma around students’ economic status and ensure all youth are hunger-free and ready to learn. Providing school meals is a proven way to increase students’ attendance, improve behavior and academic achievement, reduce tardiness, and set our state on the path to ending childhood hunger.

California and Maine have shown us what is possible in the fight against childhood food insecurity. School meals for all would be a game-changer for our state.

We need our state representatives and senators to pass H.714/S.714: An Act Relative to Universal School Meals during the legislative session. Hungry children can’t wait.

Jennifer Lemmerman

Andover

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