Make Meals Free for Students


Target: U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan

Goal: Make school breakfasts and lunches free for all K-12 students in school districts across the United States.

A cafeteria worker in a Texas middle school recently threw away a student’s breakfast, in front of his fellow classmates, because his account was 30 cents short of covering the meal. The student receives discounted meals due to his single mother’s limited income; however, his mom is still responsible for putting money into his student account for his meals. The school claims that students are given a verbal warning when their account is getting low, and then a letter is sent home to the parents before the student’s funds run out. Regardless, a child should not have to suffer, going hungry at school, over such a minimal amount of money.

Some cities are participating in what is called the “Community Eligibility Option,” allowing free meals to all students in the district. Dallas, Detroit, Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago are among the cities that now offer free meals to all students. This program saves families money and paperwork to get enrolled in a free or discounted meal program, and saves schools staffing costs in the long run, as staff are no longer needed to check each student’s meal price status. Despite the availability of this program, about half of students who are eligible for free school meals do not receive them in the U.S. Students need to eat in order to be successful in school—it takes fuel to work hard and receive a quality education. Meals should be provided to all students as a part of each school district’s budget.

Reports show that three-quarters of U.S. teachers have students who come to school hungry on a regular basis, and half of teachers say hunger is a serious problem in their school. Studies show that students who go hungry tend to fall behind their peers academically, making a big impact on their education. If the students who need free meals actually received them, more than 800,000 more students would graduate high school annually in the U.S. Providing meals for students makes a big difference to their education, health, and future. Demand that the U.S. Department of Education provide meals for students in all cities across the country.


Dear U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan,

Hunger is a serious problem in our country, and young people are suffering, not only physically, but also in school. Going hungry is detrimental to students’ education, with studies showing that students who do not have access to enough food tend to fall behind their peers academically. This not only impacts their lives in the present, but it also robs them of a better future.

Students in schools across our country are being turned away from the cafeteria without a meal due to their parents’ inability to pay or to fill out the necessary paperwork for their child to receive free meals. Children are suffering, and this should not be the case when we have the resources to feed them. Some cities are implementing the “Community Eligibility Option,” which gives free breakfast and lunch to all students within the district. Boston, Chicago, Dallas, and Atlanta are among the cities that have started using this program, but many more cities across the country should be enacting the same meal policy. Require all school districts across the U.S. to provide free meals to all students as a part of their annual budget, no longer singling certain students out who suffer because of their parents’ inability to pay, but providing all students with the opportunity for health and a better future through education.


[Your Name Here]

Photo Credit: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Wikimedia

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