LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – Since the pandemic started, free school lunches have been provided to students across the nation. The School Nutrition Association (SNA) is working to get these programs to continue permanently.
4 in 10 children live in households that struggle to meet expenses since the pandemic started which means they have been at risk of going without the nutrition necessary to help them succeed in school. SNA National President Reginald Ross said the pandemic has highlighted the need to offer healthy and nutritious meals to all students.
“Eventually USDA allowed us the opportunity to feed all students. So since early August, we have been able to feed all students without any stigma, without any concern for whether or not their family had completed the free and reduced application,” said Ross.
He explained that this is important for students to be able to function and learn in school.
“We actually researched the results of having eaten breakfast and we looked at students over their entire lifetime and it showed that students who ate breakfast were academically better prepared, they had less issues as far as health issues, having to go to the school nurse, and over the course of their lifetime they were more successful,” said Ross.
They have already set the example for what they believe is necessary moving forward Ross explained. Now, it’s a matter of getting it approved by decision makers to continue these free school lunches for students.
“We want them to realize how important it is and it also takes away the stigma for students because in a lot of situations as students go through the cafeteria lines, there is a stigma associated with whether or not they are free or reduced so all of that would be eliminated,” said Ross.
Ross said he knows how important it is for students to receive nourishing and healthy meals. One thing he has realized after working in the cafeteria at one point is that most kids receive their nutrition from the meals they get at school which is why the continuation of this program is so important.