Have a Heart for Kids Day rally, 2015

Cut could make kids’ stomachs growl

Adam 03/25/11

School meals are a critical tool in the fight against childhood hunger.  For five days a week, nine or ten months out of the year, kids in low-income families can count on school meals as a source of balanced, reliable nutrition.  

Federal standards ensure that growing kids who eat school meals are getting adequate amounts of calcium and protein. Hunger-free kids can concentrate on their schoolwork.  Without school meals, low-income families would have to make tight food budgets stretch even further, reducing the quality and amount of food that children and parents eat every day. We are proud that Washingtonians have a long history of supporting school meal programs.

In the 2011 early action supplemental budget, the legislature cut  funding for school meals by $3 million.

School food budgets are run on very tight margins. Only a few programs break even.  For most districts, serving kids healthy, high quality food costs far more than school meal programs bring in, and districts are forced to cover their costs through levy funds and reserves.

If this cut is carried into the next biennium, school meal programs and kids across the state will be hurt. Schools could be forced to lay off workers and turn to more processed foods with lower labor costs. Kids may not have access to as many fresh fruits and vegetables, and much of the work to improve meal quality – by cooking with higher-cost, more nutritious foods – could be lost. In the worst cases, schools may drop lunch or breakfast programs. 

We still have time to save school meal funding. Call or email your legislators. Let them know that school meals are critical to the success of children in every school in every district across Washington.