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100 percent increase in public school buildings serving meals due to Michigan School Meals Program

LANSING – Today, the Michigan Department of Education (MDE) shared with the House Appropriations Subcommittee on School Aid and Education that the number of Michigan public school buildings serving free meals has increased by over 100% since last school year.

In school year 2022-2023, over 1,600 buildings were serving free meals. In school year 2023-2024, over 3,300 buildings are participating. Every day, more than 850,000 public school children are choosing to eat lunch at school and over 474,000 are eating breakfast at school.

“More students participating in school breakfast daily directly supports Michigan’s Top 10 Strategic Education Plan Goal 3 to improve the health, safety and wellness of all learners,” said State Superintendent Dr. Michael F. Rice. “With so many more buildings offering meals, we are ensuring all public school students receive the nutrition that they need to be successful learners throughout the day. We strongly encourage the legislature to continue the Michigan School Meals Program.”

The Michigan School Meals program is state funded and allows intermediate school districts and local education agencies, both traditional public school districts and public school academies, that are serving pre-kindergarten through grade 12 and participating in the U.S. Department of Agriculture School Nutrition Programs to provide students with one free breakfast and one free lunch daily.

The state legislature approved and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer signed into law the Michigan School Meals program for fiscal year 2024. It provides one breakfast and one lunch to each student at no cost. This new state program is estimated to save families at least $850 annually.

So far this school year, every participating district is seeing an increase in meals served, even those that were part of the federal Community Eligibility Provision and were already serving meals at no cost. This demonstrates that hungry children live in every community, even those with the highest socio-economic status, and when that barrier is removed, children use hunger as their reason for choosing to eat at school or not.

“We are excited to see that the greatest increases are in middle and high school student participation,” stated Dr. Diane Golzynski, MDE deputy superintendent of Finance and Operations. “Many older students felt stigmatized if they were eligible for free meals and would not eat them. Now, all students eat for free, which ensures that all students have a positive experience getting a free breakfast and lunch.”

This week – March 4-8 – schools are celebrating National School Breakfast Week, which aims to encourage more families to take advantage of the healthy choices available with free public school breakfast.

Studies show that students who eat school breakfast are more likely to:

  • Reach higher levels of achievement in reading and math.
  • Score higher on standardized tests.
  • Have better concentration and memory.
  • Be more alert and focused.
  • Attend school daily and experience less acute illnesses.
  • Maintain a healthy weight.

To learn more about the School Breakfast Program, visit the School Breakfast Program. To learn more about the National School Lunch Program, visit the National School Lunch Program. To learn more about the Michigan School Meals program, visit Michigan School Meals.

The School Breakfast and Lunch Programs are administered by MDE through funds from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. They are available to children 18 and under regardless of race, color, national origin, sex (including gender identity and sexual orientation), age or disability.  

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