WASHINGTON, October 15 — Today, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) announced the introduction of the Universal School Meals Program Act to help provide free breakfast, lunch, and dinner to every student in America—without demanding they prove they are poor enough to deserve help getting three meals a day.
“In the richest country in history of the world, when the top 1 percent are making more than they ever have before, it is simply outrageous that 1 in 5 children will go hungry this year,” said Senator Sanders. “Today, I am proud to propose legislation to make sure that no student goes hungry at a public school and to eliminate the stigma surrounding children who receive free or reduced lunch.”
“There are nearly 1 in 10 households in Minnesota that struggle with food insecurity, along with millions more across the country,” said Representative Omar. “We must find a way to address this crisis. When our children have empty stomachs, they cannot learn. They have more trouble concentrating. They are more likely to be absent or tardy. Study after study finds that access to meals increases child participation. In one of the wealthiest countries in the world, no child should be turned away from a meal if they cannot afford it. I am proud to join Senator Sanders in ensuring that school meals are provided free of cost to all children all year long.”
The bill prohibits schools that participate in the federal school meal program from denying meals to students, and reimburses districts for any meal debt owed by families. Universal school meals benefit students, their parents, teachers, and the schools themselves. Studies show that students with access to free breakfast have improved attendance rates and perform better in school, and children with access to universal school meals have improved health outcomes.
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