The meaning of universal free meals

By Benita Gingerella for FoodService Director

Amid estimates that over 11 million U.S. children struggle with hunger, school nutrition advocates have been pushing for universal free meals in schools for several years now.

With the pandemic shining a spotlight on economic hardship and the essential role of school nutrition professionals, those in favor are pushing even harder for Congress to pass legislation that would guarantee every child gets a no-cost meal at school. 

“Everyone has been applauding for [school nutrition professionals] and patting us on the back, recognizing us as essential,” Amanda Venezia, director of dining services at Londonderry School District in Londonderry, N.H., said at a recent virtual town hall hosted by the nonprofit FoodCorps. “Well, it’s time to take that good mojo and put it towards where it needs to be, which is universal school meals.”