Push for universal meals for Vermont students

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 4:14 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - Advocates took to the Statehouse on Wednesday to make their case for lawmakers to invest in universal breakfast and lunch for Vermont students.

Through the pandemic, the federal government has been picking up the tab for universal meals. But now lawmakers and advocates are searching for ways to fund the meals going forward.

Leaders of the House Education Committee say paying for school meals that use local ingredients is a way to boost local agriculture.

“We have built-in incentives when you reach a certain percentage of local food, you get a financial incentive from the state. And even that small financial incentive on a per meal basis can make a big difference in a school’s ability to continue to buy locally on an ongoing basis,” said Rep. Peter Conlon, D-Cornwall.

The investment would likely come from the education fund, and lawmakers say they are still looking for funding sources.

Gov. Phil Scott said this week that he opposes any tax increase on Vermonters, and he says he has concerns about paying for affluent students’ lunches with taxes affecting lower-income families.