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I was conflicted about writing this post because on the one hand I wanted to spread the good news but on the other hand worried that this information might fall into the wrong hands; say someone like that congressman Jack Kingston, who proposed that poor students should sweep floors in exchange for free lunch.
But the good news is that the US public school free lunch program (NSLP) which has been in effect for about 70 years is being strengthened and made more fair. The free lunch program had necessitated that individual families of eligible children had to apply in order to be approved. There will still be some that will have to apply; but in new proposed rules, which would be implemented in the upcoming year, schools who have over 40% of their students who are already eligible for programs such as SNAP would be funded to serve all of their students a free breakfast and lunch if it is wanted.
This would help to eliminate the stigma of poor children having to stand in separate lines or having to show eligibility cards. The situation has become so extreme that at times, children have been known to skip meals in order to avoid being stigmatized.
Research (pdf) has shown overwhelmingly that children who are well nourished have greater success academically and this can also help to take some of the stress off of parents knowing that their child will have a healthy meal at least twice each day.
We need to follow the example of Sweden and Finland in providing Universal free breakfast and lunch for public schools and this brings us a little closer.