HARTFORD, Conn., June 6, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the Connecticut House of Representatives approved a $51.1 billion biennial budget, which now heads to the Senate, which is also expected to approve the budget before the session adjourns at midnight Wednesday.
The package includes $16 million for the upcoming school year to provide grants to schools to feed kids who fall between 185%-200% of the federal poverty level — which the state currently has no mechanism for measuring. For comparison, this year’s school meals budget was $90 million and could accommodate all children, no matter household income.
Additionally, the language in the budget includes new administrative requirements, including requiring families to apply for this support which will require a new application for a one-year program.
For the same cost, the budget could have paid for universal school breakfast so that all kids would get a chance to eat one meal at school, no matter their family income. Instead, state government will be required to fund something entirely new that no person or organization advocated for over a series of months of hearings in the legislature.
“From my point of view, the Connecticut legislature and Governor have abandoned hungry kids,” said Bradley Tusk, the Founder of Tusk Philanthropies’ Solving Hunger. “Speaker Matt Ritter, Leader Martin Looney, and Governor Ned Lamont would rather declare victory about tax cuts, a giant surplus, a hefty rainy day fund, and ‘guardrails’ against spending, rather than make sure that kids have enough food.”
“It’s unfathomable that the $90 million school meal budget this year, a fraction of 1% of the state’s budget, will be followed up next school year with a meager $16 million to invent a new, wholly insufficient program that will be nearly impossible to implement effectively and may actually be designed to fail,” continued Tusk. “They would rather have kids continue to hide in shame and go hungry because they can’t pay for school meals. This is a blatant departure from what Connecticut families have grown to appreciate and value in the state: A supportive and welcoming school environment where every kid has a full belly and a chance to learn.”
“We applaud all of the food service workers, passionate kid advocates, and the energetic efforts of the strong coalition that pushed lawmakers to recognize the deprivation in one of the richest states in America. Instead, leaders have responded by serving up empty trays. Connecticut leaders can take a victory lap if they want, but this allocation in the budget, and the new red tape around it, is an abomination. Kids don’t have much power or influence – their leaders know it, and they should be ashamed.”
About Solving Hunger
Solving Hunger runs coordinated anti-hunger campaigns in cities and states to pass legislation that expands nutrition programs. For this upcoming year, Solving Hunger will provide resources and funding to four organizations focused solely on enacting political and policy changes to bring healthy school meals for all (also known as Universal Free Meals) to their communities.
Contact: [email protected]
SOURCE Tusk Philanthropies