Round-Up: Gov. Wolf Announces Universal Free Breakfast Program for 1.7 Million Pennsylvania School Children
September 12, 2022
Governor Tom Wolf announced his $21.5 million plan to provide universal free school breakfast for 1.7 million students across the commonwealth this school year. The Universal Free Breakfast Program will go into effect on October 1, 2022 and run through the end of the 2022-23 school year.
Coverage highlights of the announcement:
WLVR | In Allentown, Gov. Wolf celebrates early learning funding, unveils free breakfast program
Gov. Tom Wolf visited the Volunteers of America Children’s Center in Allentown to celebrate increased state funding for early education in this year’s budget. He also came with a big announcement: free breakfast for every child enrolled in school this academic year.
Family income will not come into play in determining who can be offered a free breakfast through the program that was announced on Friday, Wolf said. All students can receive a school breakfast regardless of whether they qualify for free or reduced-price meals eliminating the attachment of any stigma associated with the free meal.
Philadelphia Inquirer | Free breakfast returns for Pa. school students this year, Gov. Wolf announces
“Universal free school breakfast across Pennsylvania helps to ensure every student will start their day with a healthy, nutritious meal,” (Melissa) Froehlich said in a statement. “Research supports that a well-nourished child who starts the day with breakfast is more likely to be at school, has improved concentration, and is more willing to participate in the classroom.”
WESA | All Pennsylvania public and charter school kids will receive free breakfast this year
Unlike other meal programs, kids will automatically qualify for free breakfast regardless of family income. Doing so lowers the barrier to entry and helps feed more kids dealing with food insecurity.
The pandemic-era federal aid that made school meals available for free to all public school students, ended this past school year, despite a push in Congress to extend it. In Pennsylvania, officials say breakfast consumption under the free meals program increased by 16%, compared to pre-pandemic levels.
“As a parent and grandparent myself, I know that there is nothing more important than our kids,” added Gov. Wolf. “This investment in free school breakfast for all is an investment in a better, healthier, happier life for our kids now and in the years to come.”
“It is completely unacceptable for a child to start the day hungry,” Wolf said in a press release. “I’m taking hunger off the table for Pennsylvania kids by creating the Universal Free Breakfast Program.”