State Policy & Advocacy
State governments have the important task of administering the federal nutrition programs that support children and families. Engaging in state-level public policy can improve program efficiency and effectiveness and provide state-specific, innovative policy solutions to the issue of childhood hunger. This section reviews available public policy options for states to realize the full potential of child nutrition programs.
State governments play a critical role in the safety net for children and families: not only do states have significant authority in the administration of federal programs, but states can also enact policies that expand upon or complement federal programs as well as fill gaps.
For more background on the federal nutrition assistance programs that states administer and examples of how states have taken action to improve or expand them through policy efforts, please see the pages devoted to each program:
Additionally, states can address child poverty and food insecurity through the state tax code. For more information, view our page on tax credits.
This dashboard depicts the landscape of state legislation in key policy areas for addressing child hunger.
- No-cost school meals - includes bills that expand individual eligibility for no-cost meals and those that allow all students to access no-cost meals by expanding participation in the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) and/or by providing Healthy School Meals for All (HSM4A).
- In this dashboard, bills categorized as “Healthy School Meals for All” or “HSM4A” require most or all schools, or schools serving specific grades, to offer at least one meal daily at no cost to all students during one full school year and/or provide state funding to allow all students to access at least one meal daily at no cost for a full school year.
- Bills categorized as “Expand CEP” directly or indirectly promote participation in CEP and/or increasing reimbursement to districts/schools.
- Some bills include provisions that expand CEP and provide HSM4A and therefore are included in both categories.
- School breakfast programs - includes bills that specifically promote access to school breakfast outside of reducing/eliminating cost, such as requiring a breakfast program, encouraging or requiring Breakfast After the Bell, or redefining instructional time to include time spent eating breakfast.
- Child tax credits - includes bills that establish or expand state child tax credits, a state tax benefit, separate from the federal Child Tax Credit, for eligible families to help manage the cost of raising children.
For each policy area (accessed through the various tabs), the dashboard presents broad legislative trends by state, year, and specific policy types and approaches. It also includes a listing of individual bills with links to comprehensive profiles. Use the dropdown menus at the top of the dashboard to filter the data.
We are actively tracking state legislation that improves child nutrition and expands family economic opportunity. Additional bills will be added on an ongoing basis. Data will refresh daily when most states are in legislative sessions (January - May), and weekly during other times of the year. New policy areas will be added in the future.
For a quick tutorial on how to use this dashboard, watch this video. (Note: the dashboard has been updated to allow filtering with the policy menu.)
- BAB - Breakfast After the Bell
- CEP - Community Eligibility Provision
- FPL - Federal Poverty Level
- F/RP - Free and Reduced Price
- HSM4A - Healthy School Meals for All
- ITIN - Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
- TA - Technical Assistance
This dashboard relies on data obtained from the legislative tracking software Quorum. It includes legislation from all 50 states and the District of Columbia that was introduced in 2011 and later. In some instances, visualizations rely on grouped data, while bill profiles include underlying data as obtained through Quorum.
Note: for visualizations, bill status is grouped as enacted or introduced. Use of the term “introduced” is used to denote anybill that has not been enacted; it does not necessarily imply that the bill is active.
Bills were identified in Quorum using a series of search terms and included based on their relevance to policy areas of interest to Share Our Strength. Each included bill was coded by Share Our Strength policy staff based on custom coding schemes developed and programmed in Quorum.
For more information on data fields and coding schemes, see the dashboard’s data documentation.
We appreciate your input. If there is a state bill related to no-cost school meals, school breakfast, or child tax credits that you are aware of and not reflected in the dashboard, please let us know! Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The No Kid Hungry 2023 State Briefing Book is available for all 50 states. It will introduce the impact of the No Kid Hungry campaign in your state, the challenge of child food insecurity, and the programs and policies that can improve access to food and nutrition in communities.
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- New York
- North Carolina
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
- West Virginia