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Will We See Free School Meals for All Children in Rochester?

In the Community: From the Office of Congressman Joe Morelle

Photo by Wadi Lissa on Unsplash.

Marking the beginning of Hunger Action Month and the new school year, Congress is taking action to increase food accessibility, lower costs for families, and combat child hunger in Rochester. 

Partnering with Foodlink, Congressman Morelle highlighted legislation he co-sponsors to provide free school meals to all children, regardless of income and give schools the tools and resources they need to ensure no child goes hungry. 

“September is Hunger Action Month, a critical time to redouble our commitment to combating the hunger crisis and ensuring families have reliable access to healthy meals. Children cannot learn if they’re worried about where their next meal is coming from—which is why I’m co-sponsoring legislation to provide free school meals for all children,” said Morelle. “Taking action to reduce food insecurity shouldn’t be a political statement—it’s a moral obligation.”

During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Congressman Morelle helped pass legislation to allow 90% of school nutrition departments to offer free school meals to all students. Unfortunately, those provisions have now expired, making this the first school year since 2020 where many families have had to pay for school meals. That means students from homes with incomes just above 130 percent of the poverty line—only $34,450 for a family of four—will not be able to receive free meals at school.  

With supply chain challenges causing high prices across the country, now is not the time to put this additional financial burden on families. The co-sponsored Universal School Meals Program Act and Healthy Meals, Healthy Kids Act will: 

  • Permanently provide free meals to all school children, regardless of their family’s income level; 
  • Expand summer food service opportunities; 
  • Preserve the future of school meal programs by increasing the reimbursement rate for lunch; 
  • Improve school meal capacity and sustainability by providing grants to purchase kitchen equipment; 

“Now is the time to rethink our nation’s approach to addressing food insecurity, and specifically how we nourish our children,” said Julia Tedesco, President & CEO of Foodlink. “We hope that Hunger Action Month — along with the upcoming White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health — will give us the momentum we need to drive change and implement bold, equitable changes to our food system.” 

This action builds on a long-standing commitment to combating child hunger and reducing food insecurity in our communities.  

For more information on the work to uplift families in Rochester, visit: