The Rhode Island State House will be serving school lunch on Thursday as more than 30 organizations back bills to provide free breakfast and lunch to all public school students in the state, regardless of income. The press conference, “Healthy school meals for all,” will take place at 3 p.m. in the Statehouse library. Representative Justine Caldwell emphasized the value of providing high-quality, universal lunch in schools as an investment for better academic achievement, fewer discipline problems, and healthier children. Rhode Island’s Department of Education reports that 62% of lunches served statewide are either free or at a reduced price. While federal emergency funding and waivers provided free school lunch during the pandemic, this funding has since expired, leaving many families still struggling. Representative Teresa Tanzi believes that providing universal free school meals is the best solution to ensure that all children have access to food and can learn effectively. As of now, only Maine and California have permanent universal free school meal programs. Massachusetts is still offering free lunches for all students through the end of the school year.

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