This week is National School Lunch Week, which recognizes the importance of the National School Lunch Program. In Fiscal Year 2019, the National School Lunch Program served almost 82 million meals to approximately 515,000 Kentucky students. 

With over 1 in 6 Kentucky kids being food insecure, many Kentucky students rely on the meals served through this program to ensure they have consistent access to food. Research further shows that Kentucky students rely on school meals as a source for nutrition, with school meals being some of the healthiest meals that kids are consuming. 

While these programs are essential for kids’ food and nutrition security, there are barriers to accessing and administering these programs. By taking lessons from the program flexibilities offered during the pandemic and listening to the needs of both students and school nutrition departments, Congress can pass a strong Child Nutrition Reauthorization that addresses these barriers. Some of the policies Congress should consider include: 

  • Expanding the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) so more schools can offer free meals to kids. 
  • Increasing the reimbursement for meals served, which would allow schools to both purchase healthier foods and weather staffing troubles, supply chain disruptions, and inflation. 
  • Providing equipment grants to school nutrition departments so they can update equipment and expand capacity to serve healthy and locally grown foods to students. 

One of the flexibilities offered during the pandemic was allowing schools to offer all students free meals. Kentucky Youth Advocates is interested in learning about the impact that receiving free school meals had on Kentucky families and children, especially in schools that do not normally offer free meals to all students.

We are conducting a community-wide survey to better understand this impact on the economic, nutrition, and food security of children and families.  

If you are a Kentucky student or the parent of a Kentucky student, we encourage you to complete this survey by October 31, 2022. All answers will remain anonymous unless we receive permission to contact you. Please email Karena Cash at with any questions.