School meal programs have become a hot-button issue over the past few years. Is that because in 2017, the Department of Agriculture, which oversees school lunch programs, imposed a July 1st deadline for states to establish policies on how to treat children who cannot pay for lunch? Or is because the 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill included a waiver for schools to opt out of providing healthier meals for students? Maybe it’s even due the to the 2010 Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act spurred by Michelle Obama. Whatever the reason, lately the issue has been getting a lot of publicity.
16 million American kids struggle with hunger each year, and, according to Children’s Hunger Alliance, hungry children are twice as likely to repeat a grade because undernourished children have difficulties with focusing in class. For many of these children, the meals they eat at school are the only ones they receive, making weekends and summers quite difficult. To help with this issue, many schools are looking for an alternative solution to feed their students. One that doesn't require neither the school nor the students to pay extra, but still provides the students with quality meals. But, where can a school go to find a solution like this? The community. There are so many reports of community members nationwide rallying and donating money to pay for unpaid lunch bills, and of organizations creating free programs that collect food items to donate to children in need!