Healthy School Meals for All & The Community Eligibility Provision: Current Landscape of State Legislation

Recently, numerous states have advanced policies to expand access to no-cost school meals, which research has shown can benefit students, parents, and schools. Some have sought to promote participation in federal funding streams, like the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP), while others have sought to incorporate CEP promotion strategies into broader approaches to make school meals available at no cost for all students statewide, known as “Healthy School Meals for All” (HSM4A) or “School Meals for All”.

This resource summarizes the national landscape of state legislation as of October 2, 2023 to allow HSM4A and/or expand CEP participation, outlines a policy menu based on this landscape, and highlights notable enacted state laws in 2023. (It is an update to a 2022 version of the same resource.)

For this analysis, the term “Healthy School Meals for All”, or “HSM4A”, is used to describe bills that generally require most (i.e. only public) or all schools (i.e. public, private, charter) statewide to serve at least one meal daily at no cost to all students within eligible schools during one full school year. “No-cost school meals” refers more broadly to policies that support meals being available at no cost to all students within eligible schools, including both HSM4A and CEP.

The state legislative data used for this analysis, as well as data on expanding individual eligibility for no cost school meals and school breakfast programs, can be accessed through the No Kid Hungry Nutrition & Economic Assistance State Legislation Dashboard