The Rhode Island State House is hosting a school lunch event on Thursday, with over 30 organizations backing bills that propose providing breakfast and lunch free of charge for all public school students, regardless of their family’s income. The bills are expected to be supported during a press conference titled “Healthy school meals for all” at 3 p.m. in the Statehouse library. Rhode Island Representative Justine Caldwell commented on the proposed legislation, stating that high-quality, universal lunches in schools are a long-term investment that will benefit academic achievement, reduce discipline issues, and keep children healthy. Currently, 62% of lunches served statewide are either free or reduced-price. During the pandemic’s onset, federal funding and waivers made school lunches free to students nationwide, although this funding expired at the beginning of the current school year. Only Maine and California currently have permanent universal free school meal programs, with Massachusetts still providing free lunches to all students through the school year’s end. Representative Teresa Tanzi also emphasised the importance of ensuring students are not hunger-starved in school, citing dystopian headlines of students being in debt for lack of food provision.

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