Governors recognize the importance of ensuring that children have access to meals of high nutritional value. Yet, far too many of America’s children don’t have reliable access to the nutritious food they need to lead healthy, active lives. Hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process. Lack of proper nutrition during the school year or summer months contributes to a cycle of poor performance.
Therefore, governors across the country are working to solve this problem through the use of a broad range of innovative policies and tools. Governors are also working to ensure that eligible families access our existing nutrition programs that are proven to work. The federal school nutrition and feeding programs are an important means to ensure that every child receives a nutritious meal at school, before school, after school and in the summer months.
Additionally, The National School Lunch Program is used as a gateway to determine eligibility for a variety of federal and state funding programs. Research shows that when a child’s nutritional needs are met, the child is more attentive in class, has better attendance, demonstrates fewer disciplinary problems and shows improved academic performance. Properly nourished children are more active participants in the education experience, which benefits them, their fellow students and the entire school community.
- Education being an area of primary state responsibility in federalism, federal action should not preempt state laws and policies governing their school meal programs except where the national interest is at risk or states have not acted collectively on an issue of legitimate concern.
- Support states and schools with meal reimbursement rates for federally supported meals that reflect the actual cost to provide healthy, nutritious and high quality school meals.
- Refrain from imposing federal restrictions on the ability of states and schools to determine prices for full price meals.
- Establish a clear and transparent process that enables states to petition the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the ability to vary the frequency that states inspect school nutrition programs based on past performance and the quality of systems in use. This important flexibility would enable states to focus on the schools most at risk of noncompliance, while giving them ability to maximize limited state resources.
- Refrain from imposing one-size-fits all federal benchmarks for direct certification of students for school meals. Instead, the federal government should partner with states by supporting efforts to develop and expand innovative programs designed to increase participation rates of all students in the federal school meal programs.
- Support state led efforts to expand participation in the Summer Food Service Program.
- Reinforce, acknowledge and support voluntary state strategies to improve child nutrition by significantly improving access to federal school meals; educating students on sound nutrition and healthy lifestyles; increasing options for physical activity; and partnering with schools, families and the community on school nutrition, health and wellness initiatives.
Time limited (effective Winter Meeting 2019 – Winter Meeting 2021).
Adopted Winter Meeting 2019.