We did it! Oregon goes further than any other state to create Hunger-Free Schools

by Matt Newell-Ching

Together, we made history.

Oregon will go further than any state in the nation to ensure students have access to breakfast and lunch at school.

The Hunger-Free Schools provisions were signed into law by Governor Kate Brown on May 16 as part of the landmark Student Success Act, which addresses decades of disinvestment in Oregon’s schools. The Act includes new investments in early childhood, reducing class sizes, providing mental and behavioral support services, career technical education, culturally-specific student success plans, and more.

We did this together by building a strong coalition of supporters making the case that school meals are a critical element of student success.

The provision has three main components:

  • It will more than double the number of schools with universal school meals. We estimate that three in five students will attend a school serving meals to all kids at no charge. Kids at these schools will no longer feel singled out for eating school meals, and research shows that’s great for student achievement.
  • For the remainder of schools, Oregon will raise income eligibility to match eligibility for children’s health insurance. This will support working families who currently earn just too much to qualify but still need assistance.
  • Oregon will standardize the best practice of offering breakfast after the bell to students at schools with high rates of poverty. This means more students will have access to school breakfast, which is linked to higher attendance and graduation rates, and higher incomes later in life.

All of these changes will start of the school year in the fall of 2020.

We Will Need to Defend this at the Ballot

The Student Success Act will be funded through new revenue source that is dedicated to education. For nearly 30 years, Oregon has gone without such a revenue source, which has led to disinvestment in our schools, low graduation rates.

Many business groups either supported or remained neutral on the Student Success Act. However, a narrow set of special interests are gathering signatures to put this on the ballot in January 2020.

If the Student Success Act is overturned, everything we worked for will disappear. We can’t let that happen.

Together, we will do everything we can to ensure this victory is preserved. We are part of a broad coalition that will be working to defend the Student Success Act if and when it appears on the ballot. Stay tuned for updates about how you can support this effort. As of this writing, the biggest thing the campaign needs is for organizations to endorse the Student Success Act.