Progress towards making Medford Hunger Free
Updated: May 9, 2022
The pandemic has revealed the scale of hunger experienced in our community. Hunger is a deeply personal issue for me, which is obvious if you've seen me speak on the matter during a School Committee meeting.
Our community stepped up upon the closure of schools in March of 2020 and began preparing meals for those in need. This continued throughout the summer and into the school year. All meals were free and this has continued throughout the 2020-2021 school year.
Free meals are not a guarantee. The Federal government and the State of Massachusetts are independently working on making meals free for all students all the time - but these are not guaranteed to become law. Therefore on June 14, 2021 I wrote and introduced this motion which passed:
On February 3, 2020, this body unanimously voted to make Medford a Hunger Free Community, and in light of the pending federal legislation, the Universal School Meals Program Act of 2021, it is requested that the administration plan for all school meals to be provided at no charge to students at the commencement of the 2021 School Year.
Achieving our unanimously approved goal to make Medford Hunger Free requires action.
Regardless of whether the above pending legislation fails to become law, the request is that the administration offers all school meals at no cost to students and that all funding sources be considered including ESSER grants. If ESSER grant funding cannot be utilized and there are no other sources of revenue, the administration will provide an update to the School Committee at our first meeting in September on the projected financial impact to our budget, but that the policy of free meals will be implemented nonetheless. - Offered by Paul Ruseau, Mea Mustone, Jenny Graham.
With free meals guaranteed in Medford Public Schools for the upcoming school year, our next step in this work is to create an advisory committee following our advisory committee policy to provide a roadmap to accomplishing this goal of making Medford hunger free.
The text of the proclamation from February 3, 2020 which was unanimously approved can be found here.