LD 961: An Act to Provide Equity in Access to Applications for the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program
Bill Sponsor | Presented by Representative Rebecca Millett
Status | Signed into law!
LD 961 directs the Maine Department of Education to create a statewide school meal benefit online application, housed on the Department of Education’s website, so families can easily apply for school meals online. The data submitted via the application would not be visible to the Department of Education, but would be transferred directly to local districts.
WHY CREATE A STATEWIDE ONLINE SCHOOL MEAL APPLICATION?
- Paper school meal benefit applications are often not filled out and returned to schools.
- When an eligible student doesn’t return their application, school meal debt can accrue.
- School districts rely on income data from school meal benefit applications to receive federal funding to support school nutrition programs and critical educational programs.
- Earlier this school year, Maine DOE reported a gap of 17,000 missing school meal applications from previously eligible students.
- A best practice to expand access to meals and ensure a higher application return rate is to also provide an online application.
- Maine DOE currently has funding for schools to contract with a software company for district-specific online applications. A statewide online application, available to all families at a single URL, would allow for easy access to the application and would improve communication with families about filling out the application.
- Maine schools and families urgently need a short-term solution to ensure school meal applications are widely accessible and returned to school districts.
For more information, contact Full Plates’ Director of Advocacy, Anna Korsen