Special to the Independent
This week, Senator Sal DiDomenico approved the Fiscal Year 2024 State Budget alongside his legislative colleagues, which included permanent funding for universal school meals, one of his top priorities. This program will provide free breakfast and lunch to students at every K-12 school in Massachusetts. Senator DiDomenico has advocated and filed legislation in support of this program for several sessions alongside his colleague, Representative Andy Vargas, and anti-hunger organizations led by Project Bread.
“This program demonstrates the best of our state’s ideals, using funding to guarantee every Massachusetts student will access food at school,” said Senator DiDomenico, Assistant Majority Leader of the Massachusetts Senate. “We have heard time and again from educators, advocates, and parents, that children cannot learn when they are hungry, so this program will ensure all our children can concentrate in class and enjoy being a kid. I want to thank Senate President Spilka, Chair Rodrigues, and all my colleagues for their work to get this transformative program funded.”
Schools across the state have been providing universal school meals throughout the pandemic because costs for this program were temporarily footed by the federal government. In 2022, federal support for the program was cut off, but Senator DiDomenico worked with his colleagues to secure enough funding in last year’s state budget to continue funding free school meals throughout the Commonwealth for the 2022-2023 school year. Thanks to this year’s budget, this program will be funded permanently so every K-12 school in Massachusetts will continue providing free breakfast and lunch to all students.
This program has been a massive success in Massachusetts over the past few school years. Over 80,000 more students were eating lunch daily when costs were lifted, which allowed them to focus on class and relieved a financial burden from their parents. This is a crucial program especially as costs for housing, transportation, healthcare, and more have risen. Universal school meals will continue to improve the wellbeing of our children and working families throughout the Commonwealth for years to come.