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Students at Pennsylvania schools will receive free breakfast starting next month. Photo: Yan Krukov/Unsplash.
Students at Pennsylvania schools will receive free breakfast starting next month. Photo: Yan Krukov/Unsplash.

Pennsylvania students to be provided with free breakfast

Gov. Wolf has announced a new plan to provide free breakfasts for all students in the Commonwealth, after the previous initiative expired earlier in the year.

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Students at Pennsylvania schools will soon be provided again with free breakfast this year.

On Friday, Sept. 9, Gov. Tom Wolf announced his $21.5 million plan to provide universal free school breakfast. 

There are more than 1.7 million students across the commonwealth who will be impacted by The Universal Free Breakfast Program, which will officially go into effect on Oct. 1, 2022 and run through the end of the 2022-23 school year. 

“It is completely unacceptable for a child to start the day hungry,” said Gov. Wolf in a statement

“I’m taking hunger off the table for Pennsylvania kids by creating the Universal Free Breakfast Program. Regardless of whether or not they qualify for free or reduced meals normally, every student enrolled in public or private schools will have the opportunity to feed their belly before they feed their mind this school year,” he continued. 

The program is being funded by prior year funding from the School Food Services General Fund appropriation. Schools not currently participating in the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs can find information on applying on the Department of Education website. 

From March 2020 through the 2021-22 school year, nearly 1 million students have eaten for free as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s effort to make meals free for all students amid the COVID-19 pandemic by approving waivers. 

In comparison the 2018-19 school year and the 2021-22 school year saw breakfast consumption increase by nearly 16%. 

“As a parent and grandparent myself, I know that there is nothing more important than our kids,” added Gov. Wolf. “This investment in free school breakfast for all is an investment in a better, healthier, happier life for our kids now and in the years to come.”

School Nutrition Association of Pennsylvania Communications Chair Melissa Froehlich, provided insight on the impact of children starting their day with a healthy, nutritious meal.

“Research supports that a well-nourished child who starts the day with breakfast is more likely to be at school, has improved concentration and is more willing to participate in the classroom,” she said. “Universal free breakfast for all students in Pennsylvania will strengthen child nutrition programs and address equity and stigma around school breakfast so that more children will have access to nutritious meals and set our students up for success in the classroom.”

The Universal Free Breakfast Program addresses a key element in the national fight to address food insecurity and inflation.

“These investments in school meals relieve the pressure on our families as grocery prices rise and ensure that all students can access nutritious food without shame or stigma,” said Sen. Lindsey Williams, Senate Education Committee Chair and advocate for children nutrition. “I’m grateful for all of the work being done to keep students from going hungry.” 

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Agriculture, more than 443,000 children in the state are food insecure. 

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