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School Meals for All NC


School Meals for All NC is working to build a broad coalition of partners and advocates to ensure that every child in every public school in North Carolina has access to breakfast and lunch at no cost to their families.

Why this Work is so Important
When children can eat breakfast and lunch at school, they experience less hunger, have better school attendance, achieve higher academic performance, and have fewer emotional and behavioral problems.

In addition:

  • It would help more children become food secure. Every day in North Carolina, nearly 900,000 kids don’t have enough to eat. That means, one in six children experience hunger daily, and as many as one in three in our most rural counties.
  • It would eliminate unpaid school meal debt. Some of the nearly 60 percent of children in North Carolina public schools who qualify for free or reduced-price lunch still go hungry, or accumulate debt, because their families cannot afford the reduced lunch copay.
  • It would greatly reduce, or eliminate, the stigma and shaming that may be associated with lower-income students receiving free or reduced-price lunches, while also making it unnecessary for parents to apply for school meals programs for their children. These applications are a barrier for some families.
  • It would help those who are food insecure but are ineligible to receive assistance. Currently, 29 percent of food insecure North Carolina children do not qualify for free or reduced lunch because their family’s income is above 185 percent of the federal poverty level.
  • It would increase the consumption of healthy food. Students who participate in school meal programs consume more whole grains, milk, fruits, and vegetables during meal times and have better overall diet quality than those who don’t.


Our Foundation's Investment
Understanding this opportunity to positively impact the lives of children and families across the state, Blue Cross NC Foundation is supporting this comprehensive effort to achieve free school meals for all public-school students in North Carolina through multi-year grant funding, totaling $3.5 million.

Foundation funding is bolstering efforts to grow the coalition, build public awareness, strengthen the statewide network of community-based advocates, and conduct research in support of the adoption of free school meals for all.

This grantmaking is the result of a statewide, open funding opportunity seeking the best approaches to increasing access to no-cost healthy school meals - a central strategy within our Healthy Food priority area.


Learn More
We encourage you to visit  School Meals for All NC for the latest on this important initiative. We also invite you to learn more about the effort's organizers and key partners - the North Carolina Alliance for Health, The Center for Black Health & Equity, the Carolina Hunger Initiative, and A Better Chance, A Better Community.