These programs are particularly important as food insecurity continues to rise in Massachusetts, with 1 in 5 households with children struggling to afford enough food. This dire situation is worse in Black, Indigenous, and other communities of color, with 1 in 3 Black households with children facing food insecurity. Without further intervention, these rates will continue to rise as critical federal pandemic programs come to an end. Project Bread thanks the Senate for these investments and urges Senators to maintain this support in the final proposal.
As the budget process continues, Project Bread urges that a one-year extension of free school meals statewide through the 2022-2023 academic year be part of the final Fiscal Year 2023 state budget. This would provide a critical glidepath for students, families, and schools as the federal universal school meals program comes to an end on June 30th. Without this provision, 400,000 students are set to lose access to free school meals in the coming school year.
“With food insecurity on the rise and the number one source of free food for families over the past two years rapidly approaching its end in less than two months, we cannot let Massachusetts families go off the cliff with it,” said Erin McAleer, President and CEO of Project Bread. “The legislature has focused on critical, systemic solutions to hunger during this pandemic, many of which are reflected in the FY23 budget proposals. Those are made stronger and more effective when paired with the guarantee that every student in Massachusetts will be able to get a breakfast and lunch when they are at school next year, with no fee and no paperwork to prove their need.”
Project Bread thanks our partners in the Senate, particularly Senator DiDomenico, who has long been an advocate for feeding children in Massachusetts, as well as President Spilka, Senate Ways and Means Chair Rodrigues and Vice Chair Friedman, and Education Committee Chair Lewis for their leadership. We look forward to working together to support and implement these programs in the coming fiscal year.