Universal Free Meals: Comparing Funding Options to Create Hunger-Free Schools

Every student deserves access to healthy food every day, and offering students meals at no cost to them, often referred to as universal free school meals, is a great way to make that happen. The most common benefits of offering universal free meals are:

  • Reduced or eliminated stigma, as the financial barrier of paying for school meals is eliminated;
  • Less paperwork for school nutrition staff;
  • More streamlined meal service operations;
  • Less unpaid meal debt; and
  • Fewer students turned away due to inability to pay.

Removing the financial barrier of school meals for students also increases meal participation. Increased meal participation translates to more revenue coming into the district because each additional meal served increases the amount of federal reimbursements the district receives. The more kids that eat school breakfast and lunch, the more revenue the district has to reinvest in the school meals program and make it a success.

Download the full resource to learn more about Universal Free Meals.