Every Child Deserves a Healthy Start to the School Day

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Our Vision for Hunger-Free Schools

We envision universal school meals for every child, where school meals are free for all K-12 students in Oregon and in every state. Because every child deserves an equal opportunity to succeed in school — no matter where they’re from or how much money their families make.

Access to meals at school help kids learn, grow, and thrive. But the reality is that too many kids in Oregon experience hunger and food insecurity. With one in every four children in the state of Oregon being food insecure, many families rely on school meals for their nutritional needs. 

Partners for a Hunger-Free Oregon works to expand access to school meals through state and federal policy advocacy. In 2019, we led the coalition expanding access to free school meals in the state through the Student Success Act, making Oregon the national leader in school meal access. In 2022, we won expanded supports in Oregon legislation that allow 3 of 4 Oregon schools to provide universal school meals to all students. Today, we continue this work with state and federal advocacy to fight for true access to school meals for ALL students. 

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Powerful Victories for Oregon Families

The Hunger-Free Schools campaign resulted in the passage of a comprehensive set of school meal policies, included in the 2019 Student Success Act, to significantly improve access to school meals for all students. We worked hard to ensure that the law was designed to benefit communities at the highest risk of hunger. Learn more about our 2019 Hunger Free Schools campaign.

The Student Success Act includes:

  1. More schools serving universal school meals: Oregon is supplementing the federal reimbursement for school meals so that more schools can opt into a program allowing them to provide all school meals free of charge (Community Eligibility Provision). 
  2. More kids qualifying for free school meals: Students whose families earn between 185% and 300% of the federal poverty line (FPL) now qualify for meals served at no charge, an increase of 37% of food insecure families.
  3. Dramatic increases to Breakfast After the Bell: All schools with 70% or more students eligible for federal free or reduced price meals are now making free breakfast available to all students after the school day begins.

In 2023, Oregon legislation passed a historic investment in Oregon schools in House Bill 5014. HB 5014 included funding to support up to 3 out of 4 schools to qualify for the Community Eligibility Provision, and support schools to provide universal school meals to all schoolchildren!

We look forward to supporting school districts in implementing the new option in the school year ’24-’25, and continuing to push for universal school meals for all Oregon students.

Learn More about Free School Meals

“There are so many ways a student can fall through the cracks and go hungry at school – paperwork issues, employment changes, meal debt, even stigma. Fortunately, the changes governments made during the pandemic proved there’s a better way. Universal access to meals is good for our schools, good for parents and good for kids — and we have a real chance to make sure everyone has the resources we need to succeed.”

– David Wieland, Policy Advocate

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