Issue Spotlight: Why School Lunch Matters
Room One was invited by our longstanding partners, the Methow Valley School District, to participate in an informational video produced by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction.
Room One was invited by our longstanding partners, the Methow Valley School District, to participate in an informational video produced by the Washington State Office of the Superintendent for Public Instruction. The video included interviews with first and fifth grade students at Methow Valley Elementary School about the importance of school lunch and food in their day. Room One provided context on what it takes to make ends meet as a struggling working class family in our valley, as well as to barriers within the current enrollment process for free and reduced lunch.
The video is intended to build support for House Bill 1238, “Washington Healthy Hungry-Free Kids Act,” introduced on January 11 in the Washington State Legislature and referred to the Education Committee. This bill would extend the Universal School Meals that were provided to all kids during the pandemic. Now that the policies have reverted to the usual administrative process for applying for free and reduced lunch, some families owe significant past-due school meal bills. We know not all families who are income eligible go through the application process for free and reduced meals due to language barriers, pride, or transient living conditions that prevent all the necessary documentation from being easy to find.
And we know it is exceptionally hard to make ends meet right now in the valley.
- We know that the federal poverty level (the standard income eligibility metric for public benefit programs) dates back to the 1960s and is nowhere near capturing today’s childcare, transportation, and healthcare expenses.
- In addition to the 8% inflation and rising gas prices last year experienced by all, locally our grocery costs went up by 11% between 2021-2022.
- For families living desperately close to paycheck to paycheck, these increases cannot accommodate continued abundance in household food for breakfast and lunch, and certainly doesn’t leave anything more for purchasing school lunches.
- Hard winters like this one double electric bills - eating into household money available for basic needs like food.