Vermont Senate gives preliminary approval to universal school breakfast bill

BURLINGTON, Vt. — The Vermont Senate on Thursday unanimously gave preliminary approval to a bill that would bring Universal School Breakfast to all Vermont schools by 2022. The bill (S.100) would make Vermont the first state in the nation to provide breakfast free of charge to all public school students every school day. The Senate is expected to give final approval to the bill on Friday, and then it will move to the House for consideration.

The Senate also committed to a path to providing full Universal School Meals (breakfast and lunch) to all public school students by directing a task force to develop a plan to provide universal lunch by the 2026-27 school year. As S.100 is written, the task force would submit its plan to the Vermont General Assembly in January 2022.

According to recent studies released by the National Food Access and COVID Research Team, and the University of Vermont, 1 in 3 people in Vermont have experienced food insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Families with children have been twice as likely to face hunger.

In March 2020, the U.S. Department of Agriculture took emergency steps to make school and summer meals available to all children for free, regardless of their family’s income. School nutrition teams across Vermont acted quickly to implement systems to deliver meals on buses and arrange curbside pickups. Vermont was the only state to increase the total number of breakfasts and lunches served in April 2020 when compared to April 2019, according to a Food Research & Action Center (FRAC) snapshot report. The USDA has extended these emergency measures into the 2021-22 school year.

“Hunger in Vermont before the COVID-19 pandemic was already unacceptably high. Today, it’s higher than at any point in the last two decades, including the Great Recession. That doesn’t go away right after the emergency order is lifted,” said Senator Chris Pearson (P/D-Chittenden), a Senate champion for S.100. “By passing universal school breakfast, and setting Vermont down a path to full universal school meals, we’re making the health of our kids and classrooms a top priority.”

“When all our kids have regular access to nutritious meals that they can eat together – and when no student is singled out for needing meals or for having school meal debt – they all get a better education,” said Senate Education Committee Chair Brian Campion (D-Bennington). “With S.100’s passage, Vermont will again lead the nation by demonstrating that food is fundamentally linked to educational outcomes.”

In the 2019-2020 school year, 78 Vermont schools provided universal school meals to more than 17,000 students. More schools have indicated that they are eager to implement the program, after seeing the positive impact that it made for students and for school culture overall, during the pandemic year.

The bill would make universal breakfast available to all public schools beginning in the 2022-2023 school year. Breakfast will be offered at no charge to students or their families, while maximizing federal reimbursements that are available.

“When all students receive breakfast and lunch at no charge, students and schools experience extraordinary benefits,” said Anore Horton, Executive Director of Hunger Free Vermont. “Student learning improves, behavior and health improves, relationships between school administrators and families improve. It is a specific, feasible intervention that makes our kids, and our communities stronger.”

“The Vermont Farm to School Network fully supports this path to Universal School Meals and S.100,” stated Betsy Rosenbluth, Project Director of Vermont FEED. “We know that when schools can serve local food and can offer meals at no charge to all students, everyone benefits – students, families, farmers and the entire school community. Students are establishing lifelong eating habits at school and good nutrition is fundamental to their success.”

The Senate today also indicated their commitment to the full Farm Fresh School Meals for All vision, by giving preliminary approval to the State Fiscal Year 2022 Budget, which includes $500,000 to launch a new local purchasing incentive program for schools to encourage school meal programs to increase their direct purchasing from Vermont farmers and producers. Together, Universal School Meals and the local purchasing incentive program support children’s access to high quality, nutritious school meals and Vermont’s local producers and working landscape.

About Hunger Free Vermont
Hunger Free Vermont is a statewide nonprofit organization that works with state agencies and community groups to develop sustainable hunger solutions. Since 1993 Hunger Free Vermont’s outreach programs and advocacy have substantially enhanced Vermont’s nutrition safety net and increased access to nutritious foods. To learn more about Hunger Free Vermont, visit www.hungerfreevt.org, and to learn more about the Universal School Meals Campaign, visit www.universalschoolmealsvt.org.

About Tusk Philanthropies
Tusk Philanthropies, the family foundation of venture capitalist and political strategist Bradley Tusk, is focused on making sure that people who are hungry have enough food to eat, and on fixing our democracy by making it exponentially easier to vote. Tusk Philanthropies is supporting Hunger Free Vermont’s campaign to bring universal breakfast and lunch to every public school student in the state. Ensuring people have access to food is an immediate problem that the organization addresses every year by funding, developing, and managing legislative campaigns to expand and strengthen access to nutrition programs like Breakfast After the Bell, Universal School Meals, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). To date, Tusk Philanthropies has helped secure more than $176 million in federal funding to support school meals programs serving over 2.1 million food insecure children in Arizona, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Utah, and Washington. To learn more, visit tuskphilanthropies.com.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Sabina Parker
sparker@hungerfreevt.org
802-865-0255

Image courtesy of U.S. Department of Agriculture
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14 thoughts on “Vermont Senate gives preliminary approval to universal school breakfast bill

  1. Can’t feed the family, don’t have kids. Unfortunately, as most here have pointed out, the welfare state grows stronger. Who wants to work when you get free money, rent, medical, phones, food at home and at school. The more kids you have, the more money in your pocket. Such a backwards approach to a free America but I think that’s the idea. VT lawmakers love being first at things, regardless of how stupid they are.

  2. This is so troubling.

    If a farmer, rancher, dog owner didn’t feed their animals we’d be really quick to have them arrested, fined and put their name in the state wide paper for hoe cruel and neglectful they are.

    But if you are a parent in Vermont, and you bring this baby into the world addicted to crack we give you thousands of dollars in aid. Don’t feed your kids breakfast, no worries we’ll feed the entire school population so you don’t have to feel bad or be inconvenienced to buy some breakfast cereal and pour it in a bowl for you kids.

    HOW INSANE do we have to become?

    That in my book would be an unfit parent. Can you imagine what the rest of this child’s life is like if the parents don’t have together enough to do this VERY SIMPLE TASK?

    A bird knows to build a nest before having babies. A bird know to enogh to feed her chicks.

    Mental health is a serious issue in Vermont and our nation. When you abuse children, guess what? Some of them grow up to be narcissist, psychopaths, sociopaths. They become despondent, hopeless and suicidal. You think growing up in a house hold that doesn’t have it together enough to provide a basic breakfast might contribute? Imagine what else is going on or not going on in that house!

    We have it backwards. There is free food everywhere in Vermont. If a parent can’t figure out how to feed their kids they should be arrested for child abuse.

    Vermont has it completely backwards.

    • This is yet such another epic waste of taxpayer money. So even if you want to enable really bad parenting….

      Wouldn’t eat be cheaper to send these families breakfast food every two weeks through the mail? Have the food shelf do it?

      Even still you are promoting and enabling child abuse. Feeding kids is pretty basic, a pretty low standard of parental care and responsibility if there ever was one.

      • Is this latest round of feeding the students going to include ‘Backpack Meals’ so certain students, theoretically, will have food to sustain them over the weekend? When it was being implemented in SE Vermont, the kids with the backpack meals were often eating the food they were given for the weekend, right after school on Friday, almost in the shadows of the issuing schools, because if they didn’t, their older siblings and parents would eat it for them. You’d be surprised at what you learn when you’re on a local school board for a bit…

        • Thank you for that insight. It’s worse than people know.

          How sad is that? We have free food every where too, I would think not feeding your kid would be a pretty clear indication of child abuse.

          You know the rest of the family life has to be pretty bad if the neglect is that severe. They claim they are for the kids, this clearly show the opposite, they are aiding and abetting child abuse.

      • I’m tired of feeding other people’s kids! If you can’t afford to care for them don’t have them!

  3. Because Vermonters aren’t smart enough to pour corn flakes from a box?

    Perhaps this is too make it easier to break up families? I don’t even have to feed my kids now for 9 months of the year because the state does it?

    Notice that the other goal, to “fix our democracy so it’s easier to vote.” 1st we are not a democracy. 2nd it’s pretty easy to vote.

    So what is Tusk Philanthropies really about? My guess without doing any research? Probably some left wing, self serving non-profit being run to enrich themselves. Vermont has more “non-profits” per capita than most anywhere. People assume non-profit is good. Most surely many are wolves in sheep’s clothing.

    Probably pay our little project for funding then we’ll make the voting process just the way you want it.

  4. This is a scam.

    That S.100 would make Vermont the first state in the nation to provide breakfast free of charge to all public-school students every school day is misleading. Students in district that tuition their student to independent schools are not included.

    “This bill proposes to require all public schools in Vermont to make available school breakfast and lunch to all students at no charge.”

    Note the language in the bill. The requirement isn’t for all students funded by public tax dollars. Instead, the bill directs only the ‘public schools’ to provide the services. Students in districts tuitioning their students to independent schools are out of luck.

    This is yet another cleverly worded con by legislators, funded by special interest groups, to perpetuate the public-school monopoly with taxpayer money.

  5. What is the core reason that the government is rapidly taking over our children ???

    Hour by hour they grasp our children with an iron fist – wrapped in velvet !! 24/7/365 !?!?

    So what is their motive, what is their goal, what will happen when every need of Humanity is furnished only by Government, and none by private efforts and our personal resources to raise our own children ?? !! ?? !!!

    • It’s so they will be good little worker bees for the colony and everyone dependent upon the government. It’s all part of the plan for coverting a republic to “democratic socialism”…..aka new world order.

  6. Ramping up welfare…for everyone!!! Wheeee! Getting Vermonters used to a Communist State. That there are still people left in the Greem Mountains tells me that they are not only used to Communism, they actually embrace it .

    • I can assure you this was not the most pressing item on everybody’s mind. But we’ll need another whole shift of cooks for breakfast.

  7. Don’t low income families have access to EBT cards or whatever the equivalent of those is today?
    Can’t the students bring a sandwich and a piece of fruit to school in a bag or lunchbox like I did when a young student? Then we purchased a pint of milk for 25 cents in those days.

    If the lunches served for free today at schools are so nutritious, why are the recent reports of Vermont students’ tested knowledge so embarrassingly low? Is there another problem in the schools other
    than a need to provide meals ? Maybe we need to evaluate the learning /teaching process since our students’ testing demonstrates little knowledge. While nourishment is important, there must be a
    bigger problem to resolve, especially since Vermont’s per pupil spending is almost double the national average. Testing results should be outstanding! Our students and taxpayers deserve high quality education and outcomes

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