school meals

Lawmakers in Michigan have approved the state’s budget bill, making it the most recent state to authorize universal free school meals.

The state’s House and Senate have approved the budget, designating $160 million to provide free daily school breakfast and lunch in the upcoming academic year. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer recently signed the bill, turning it into law.

The budget includes only enough funding to provide meals for the 2023-24 school year. Lawmakers must provide additional funding to continue the program for the following year.

“This marks a momentous occasion in Michigan’s history: the Michigan Legislature has endorsed and financed the Healthy School Meals for All initiative, guaranteeing cost-free breakfast and lunch for every public school student through the state’s budget,” said TPS communications director Vic Pratt.

According to the governor’s office, this initiative will benefit 1.4 million children throughout Michigan, resulting in annual savings of at least $850 for families.

Previously, in numerous districts, including TPS, only certain students could receive free or reduced meals, contingent upon their family’s income of their eligibility for SNAP benefits or Medicaid.

“Adequate nutrition is a fundamental element of a heart-healthy way of life, and by ensuring that all students receive proper nourishment, enabling them to be prepared for learning in the classroom, we are laying the foundation for them to achieve their utmost capabilities,” said Pratt.

While not unprecedented, as a federal program during the COVID-19 pandemic previously offered meals to all Michigan students, that initiative concluded before the 2022-23 school year. Thanks to the state’s commitment, school meals will again be accessible to all students without charge.

“For numerous families, this brings immense relief, alleviating a significant burden,” added Pratt.