Counties Encourage Expansion of Free School Meals for Maryland Students

On February 22, 2023, Legislative Director Kevin Kinnally testified before the Senate Budget and Taxation Committee in support of SB 557-Primary and Secondary Education – Breakfast and Lunch Programs – Universal Expansion.

The same day, Associate Policy Director Brianna January submitted testimony to the House Ways and Means Committee on the bill’s crossfire, HB 628.

HB 628 alters the standards of the State Free Feeding Program to require that schools participating in federal aid programs to provide qualifying students free meals instead serve free meals to all their students, regardless of the student’s socioeconomic status. The bill also appropriates state funds to support these additional costs. In doing so, HB 628 will help level the playing field, eliminating the social stigma attendant to relying on free meals in school lunchrooms across the State.

From the MACo Testimony:

Research is clear: access to healthy, quality in-school meals improves students’ educational experiences and learning performance. Furthermore, need and eligibility for free and reduced meals is growing statewide, as evidenced by recent reporting from the Department of Legislative Services that has uncovered an additional 111,000 students across Maryland who should receive free and reduced school meals. Counties strongly support providing all of Maryland’s students with quality, healthy school meals – and we are proud to collaborate with the federal government to do so. Unfortunately, many school districts aren’t financially capable of doing so on their own and federal aid only supports a percentage of students in need.

More on MACo’s Advocacy:

Follow MACo’s advocacy efforts during the 2023 legislative session on MACo’s Legislative Tracking Database

Learn more about MACo’s 2023 Legislative Initiatives

Read more General Assembly News on MACo’s Conduit Street blog