School Lunches Free in Some States; Not Wyoming
School starts next week. It’s always a bit of sticker shock when the final tallies for school supplies are totalled; backpacks, writing utensils, calculators, folders, papers, and arguably the most important–the food.
The snacks are temporary fuel for pre-lunch or post-lunch hunger, and they can add up. So can school lunches themselves. The School Nutrition Association states that 1 in 8 children in the US lack consistent access to adequate food.
Data shows that students who eat well perform better academically and are in school more days of the year. The Federal Government reimburses schools that participate in the National School Lunch program. Last year, schools were reimbursed a maximum of .53 cents for regularly-priced lunches, $3.78 for reduced lunches, and $4.18 for each free lunch.
In Albany County School District No. 1, school lunches cost students $2.75 per regularly priced elementary lunch and .40 cents for reduced lunches.
Amidst large budget cuts in education across the nation, the state of Massachusetts chose to prioritize food for its students. Voters responded 52% to create a new tax bracket for millionaires, who will be taxed 4% on annual income that exceeds $1 million dollars.
A portion of the $1 billion in revenue from the tax will feed all public school students in Massachussets, for free. Free weekday lunches. Massachusetts is now the seventh state to provide free lunches for its students after COVID funds for free lunches expired.
Last year, the Wyoming Education Association filed suit against the Wyoming Department of Education for failing to adequately fund schools, after lawmakers voted against raising taxes to fund schools and cover the $300 million dollar deficit. However, during this year’s legislative session, $383 million was added to the state’s general fund when oil and gas revenues were high.
This year, many Wyoming students will continue to pay for their lunches, as the state grapples with the education budget in the next year.