Bill protects the 229 Maryland schools that have eliminated school lunch shaming.
BALTIMORE, May 26, 2017 – Governor Larry Hogan signed The Hunger-Free Schools Act of 2017 (House Bill 287/Senate Bill 361) yesterday, which will extend the successful Community Eligibility Provision to allow more high-need schools in Maryland to provide free school breakfast and lunch to all students.
“We applaud Governor Hogan for signing this important piece of legislation that will help more children access the nutrition they need for their health and learning,” said Michael J. Wilson, director, Maryland Hunger Solutions. “Community eligibility ensures all students are treated equally and no child experiences ‘lunch shaming’ if their parents are unable to pay for school meals.”
Community eligibility increases participation in school breakfast and lunch, reduces stigma associated with receiving free school meals, and increases the federal revenues coming into our state. In addition, community eligibility increases efficiency and simplifies administrative processes by removing the need for families to submit free and reduced price-meal applications. The U.S. Department of Agriculture reimburses schools using community eligibility based on the number of students that are homeless, migrant, in foster care, Head Start, or living in households that participate in the Food Supplement Program and the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program. These extra meals don’t cost Maryland taxpayers a dime of state money.
“The Hunger-Free Schools Act of 2017 solidifies Maryland’s commitment to ending student hunger in our schools,” said Maryland State Delegate Sheila Hixson, the bill’s sponsor. “The passage of this bill was a bipartisan effort because the welfare and education of our students is always a top priority in Maryland.”
In the 2016-2017 school year, 229 Maryland schools participated in community eligibility, and as a result, more than 98,000 students attended a hunger-free school.
Since June 2015, community eligibility has been used with great success in all schools in Baltimore City. The district has seen significant positive outcomes, including an additional $9.6 million in federal reimbursements and an increase in the number of full-time school nutrition staff members. Since adopting community eligibility, Baltimore City Schools are serving 10,000 additional school lunches every day. Somerset County Public Schools also currently participates in community eligibility district-wide.
“I am pleased that the Hunger-Free Schools Act has been signed into law,” said Maryland State Senator Richard Madaleno, the bill’s sponsor. “This bill will continue to allow every student in places like Baltimore City and Somerset County to receive free, nutritious meals every day. It’s time for other jurisdictions to start participating so every school in Maryland is a Hunger-Free School.”
Follow this link to a list of eligible schools and more information about community eligibility (pdf). The deadline for schools and school districts to adopt community eligibility for the coming school year is June 30, 2017.
Maryland Hunger Solutions, an initiative of the Food Research & Action Center, works to end hunger throughout the state of Maryland.