Should School Meals Be Free For All?

Recently, we’ve heard all too many stories about outstanding lunch debt that may have accumulated from either unknowing students or students who just couldn’t afford to eat lunch. Thankfully, leaders in these communities have stepped up and advocated for change. Either through paying the debt out of their own pockets or just cancelling the debt all together.

Read: Man Pays Off School Debt

Story after story made me wonder if there could be a better way to make sure all public school children have lunch meals, rather than relying on community leaders to react to these situations again and again. Especially since 1 in 5 Central Florida children are at-risk of going to bed hungry tonight.

Thanks to Sachs Media Group, I had the opportunity to include a question in a scientific, statewide survey of 1,000 Florida voters. Here’s what I asked and the interesting results:

How strongly would you support or oppose fully funding free school breakfast and lunch for all children attending public schools (K-12)?

  • We found that 67% of Florida voters would support fully funding free school breakfast and lunch for all children attending K-12 public schools, with¬†50% strongly supporting and 17% somewhat supporting.
  • 73% of female voters compared to 62% of male voters supported free school meals and the vast majority of ages 18-35 (85%) supported it compared to 55 years and older.
  • In Central Florida, a combined 71% of voters either strongly support or somewhat support free school meals for public school students.

There is overall support for this idea, but unfortunately we’ll need to do further polling and research to have deeper insights regarding what information or arguments could positively influence support.

Many studies, including this recent one from Syracuse University, shows that universal free lunch for all students can boost grades and test scores.

Read more here: Universal free lunch is linked to better test scores in New York City, new report finds

Next Steps

We are monitoring and having conversations with community leaders around this topic and we hope to stop seeing stories of children being denied breakfast or lunch while attending school.

Sign up for our monthly advocate updates to stay informed about how you can lend your voice to the 1 in 5 Central Florida children who are at-risk of going to bed hungry tonight. Be a hunger warrior.

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