Healthy School Meals for All Legislation Passes Illinois House and Senate

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Health

Free, healthy school meals for all Illinois students may soon become a reality if the state legislature funds the program recently passed in the House and Senate. House Bill 2471, the Healthy School Meals for All legislation, passed the Illinois House and Senate and paves the way for Illinois students to be hunger-free and ready to grow, learn and thrive. House Bill 2471 creates the Healthy School Meals for All program to provide state funding to Illinois schools to enable them to offer quality, free school meals to all children who need and want one, no matter their family’s income. The program would maximize use of an existing Federal program and expand access to free school meals, helping to reduce the stigma often associated with qualifying for free or reduced-price meals. Illinois joins a list of other states working to fill the gaps left by Congress when the waivers that provided free meals to all kids during the COVID-19 pandemic expired. Minnesota, Colorado, New Mexico, Maine, and California have all passed and funded free school meals legislation in their states. The coalition of Illinois partners, including education leaders, public health groups, parents, and anti-hunger advocates have been supporting this proposal. It is estimated to cost around $115 million in the first year, and up to $194 million in future years, depending on how many schools and students opt-in. If signed into law and fully funded, families may not need to worry about paying for student meals this next school year.

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