Expanding Individual Eligibility for No-Cost School Meals: Eliminating the Reduced-Price Co-Pay and Other Policy Options
School meals provide the most nutritious food consumed by kids on a given day. When students participate in school meal programs, they often experience a range of health and educational benefits. Removing cost as a barrier to school meal participation can allow more students to access school meals and experience their benefits, particularly those students who are food insecure. One approach is to expand individual eligibility for no-cost school meals, which generally provides more targeted financial relief at a lower overall cost to the state compared to offering no-cost meals to all students. This resource outlines policy options to expand individual eligibility, depicts the current landscape of state laws, and provides legislative examples for each of the policy options.