Healthy School Meals for All Colorado Children

Lauren Banister and Paul Sherman
September 1, 2022

We did it! Prop. FF passed, meaning that a Healthy School Meals for All program will be established in all Colorado public schools beginning in Fall 2023. The following blog was published in the lead-up to the election. Please contact MAZON’s Organizer, Lauren Banister at lbanister@mazon.org, for more information on how to get involved in our efforts.

Last updated on December 1, 2022.

Pirkei Avot 3:21 teaches us, “Im ein kemach, ein Torah; im ein Torah, ein kemach” — “Without bread there is no Torah; without Torah, there is no bread.” Here, in our Rabbinic code of ethics, we learn that above all else — before we can nourish our minds and souls, before we can pursue an ethical and moral life , and before we can seek knowledge or contribute to society — we must feed our bodies.

Yet, today, millions of Americans around the country are facing food insecurity. For children, this can stunt their  opportunity to grow and prosper. That is why MAZON was proud to support Colorado Proposition FF, Healthy School Meals for All, to provide free school meals for all Colorado children. 

Studies show that free school meals make students more attentive and engaged in the classroom, improve grades and graduation rates, reduce obesity rates and poor health, and increase fruit and vegetable consumption. School meals are the single most effective tool to even the playing field and ensure that every kid has the opportunity to learn on equal footing.

Colorado voters ensured that every child in the state receives a nutritious breakfast and lunch at no cost so that students can focus on school instead of their stomachs. 

“Free school meals for all” have proven to be an invaluable tool to reduce food insecurity. For the past two years, COVID-19 relief funds provided free school lunches for all students, and school districts in Colorado reported serving meals to 20-40% more students — capturing a group of students in need that were not included in the current free and reduced-price school meals program. 

Proposition FF, Healthy School Meals for All, will create a more equitable Colorado by:

  • Providing access to free, nutritious school meals for all students; 
  • Relieving administrators of the cost and time of processing applications;
  • Relieving parents of the stigma and burden of filling out an application;
  • Closing the school meal gap for families who struggle with food insecurity but do not qualify for assistance; 
  • Eliminating lunch shaming since students will no longer be singled out as the “free lunch kid” or denied access to food because their family cannot pay; and
  • Creating sustainable, long-term funding for school meals for all by limiting state income tax deductions for the top 3% of Colorado income earners. 

Healthy School Meals for All is crucial to lower child hunger rates and set children on a path to a healthy future. For several years, MAZON has partnered with organizations in Colorado to advance anti-hunger priorities at the state level, and was proud to endorse the Healthy School Meals for All campaign and launch our programmatic efforts for the fall. 

Below is a list of actions and programs MAZON hosted in the months leading up to the 2022 election to educate the Colorado Jewish community about Prop. FF – Healthy School Meals for All:

  • Colorado voters:
  • Colorado Jewish community leaders, clergy members, educators, or professionals:
    • Joined our leadership training to learn from activists and organizers about Healthy School Meals for All and leave with tangible programming for their communities. 
    • Engaged their communities around Judaism’s commitment to fighting hunger and educate them about this initiative with a beautiful, communal art project, perfect for Sukkot! We provided all of the materials.
  • Those who represented a national or Colorado-based organization:
    • Showed their support for the initiative by endorsing the campaign. No commitment was required beyond lending their organization’s name. 
  • Anyone who believed that all children deserve reliable access to school meals:
    • Donated to support MAZON’s work in Colorado and across the country.
    • Reached out to MAZON’s organizer, Lauren Banister, at lbanister@mazon.org to discuss advocacy opportunities in their state.
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