Legislative Session Produces Big Wins for Maine Kids

This year, Governor Mills and the 131st Maine legislature passed a series of impactful bills aimed at improving the lives of Maine kids and their families. From ensuring school kitchens have the proper equipment to cook fresh, healthy food; increasing local food in schools; taking a comprehensive look at the school day to make it work better for students; creating a state-paid family leave program to support parents and caregivers; expanding Maine’s Child Tax Credit; and strengthening Maine’s childcare system; Maine lawmakers and Governor Mills put new policies in place that will help Maine kids thrive. 

School Kitchen and Cafeteria Improvement Fund: (Sponsored by Representative Salisbury)

Expanding on an existing fund of nearly $350,000 that already supports school breakfast, the School Kitchen and Cafeteria Improvement fund helps school nutrition programs purchase essential equipment such as ovens, refrigerators, freezers, dishwashers, and more. The fund also helps with increased costs associated with student food allergies and dietary restrictions. 

More local food in schools: (Sponsored by Senator Reny)

This bill expands Maine’s Local Food Fund to include Maine-made products like salsa, marinara sauce, breaded local fish, and more. By promoting foods that are made primarily from Maine ingredients, school nutrition programs are encouraged to serve more local food to Maine students. 

A healthier school day for kids: (Sponsored by Representative Dodge)

This bill establishes a study to examine how the school day schedule can work better for students, including how long students get to eat, time outside throughout the school day, school start times, and more. 

Maine Child and Dependent Tax Credit: (Sponsored by House Majority Leader Terry)

This bill strengthens Maine’s existing child and dependent tax credit by expanding it to include families with the lowest income. 

Paid Family and Medical Leave Program: (Sponsored by Senator Daughtry)

Establishes a state paid family and medical leave benefit program that allows Maine workers to take time to care for their health and family without risking their financial stability or employment. Benefits will be available starting May 1, 2026. 

Child Care: (Sponsored by Senate President Jackson)

Maine made a big investment this session by including over $59 million in the state budget to increase wage support for childcare workers, expand eligibility for financial assistance to more families, and strengthen Head Start programs. 

A BIG thank you to Governor Mills, the 131st Maine Legislature, and those who sponsored these bills for investing in important solutions that will help Maine kids and families thrive!


In addition to the bills that passed, some important efforts were started this session that will increase SNAP benefits for Maine families and provide garden and nutrition education to students across the state. These bills will be carried over to next year’s session.

LD 1584 An Act to Provide Funding for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program to Temporarily Restore Benefits Being Reduced by the Federal Government (Sponsored by Representative Stover)

This bill was introduced in response to the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and the rollback of extra SNAP benefits for households. This rollback resulted in many households having as little as $23/month to spend on groceries, and a big increase in the demand on food pantries. The bill ensures that no household receiving SNAP benefits will get less than $95/month. 

LD 1682 An Act to Create the Maine Experiential Education Program: (Sponsored by Representative Shaw)

This bill will establish a fund to support nutrition and garden education in all schools across the state, providing hands-on learning opportunities while helping Maine kids understand where their food comes from and exposing them to new food choices. Despite receiving unanimous support from the Committee on Agriculture, Conservation, and Forestry, it did not receive the $500,000 in funding it needed to be implemented. However, the bill will be carried over into the next session where it will have another opportunity to be funded. 

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