On July 28, the Governor signed this year’s state budget into law, which included one of Senator Sal DiDomenico’s top priorities – funding for universal school meals throughout the upcoming school year. This $110 million investment will provide free breakfast and lunch to all students, regardless of income in the Commonwealth.
Universal free school meals provide economic relief to parents with low income, saves time, helps children learn, and encourages more kids to take advantage by removing any stigma from a school meal program. Throughout the pandemic, increased federal funding has empowered schools to offer free meals to all children. This federal funding has been a lifeline for students and parents with low income, but the money is running out before the upcoming school year. Now that this state funding has been signed into law, 400,000 children will keep their access to free meals and be able to focus on school and their friends.
“As the Universal School Meals lead sponsor, and a longtime anti-hunger advocate I am proud of this $110 million commitment we secured in the budget,” said Senator DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “We must take time to celebrate, spread the word about this monumental victory, and then get back to work to ensure no Massachusetts student goes hungry again. I would like to thank Senate President Spilka and Chair Rodrigues for working to include this in the budget, Representative Vargas, for his leadership in the House, and Project Bread along with all anti-hunger organizations and activists across the state for their tremendous advocacy.”
“The past two years have shown how critical school meals are – as a response to rising food insecurity and as a tool to help students succeed at school. With the program ending on the federal level, we are grateful that the state legislature stepped in to ensure that families and school nutrition programs did not lose this important resource, the number one source of food for families during the pandemic. Massachusetts is stronger because of Senator DiDomenico’s advocacy and leadership in addressing child hunger. We look forward to continuing to work together to ensure that students have the nutrition they need during the school day,” said Erin McAleer, CEO and President of Project Bread.
Senator DiDomenico and Representative Andy Vargas filed this legislation in 2021. The two elected officials first teamed up during the previous legislative session to pass the Breakfast After the Bell law, which provides breakfast in school to countless children from families with low income. Project Bread, one of the most effective anti-hunger organizations, and activists across the state have been indispensable partners in achieving these milestones. DiDomenico will work with the coalition and continue to press forward in the next legislative session to make Universal School Meals permanent in Massachusetts.