LANSING, MI, June 28, 2023 - The American Heart Association has led a statewide effort to ensure all Michigan public school students have access to healthy school meals at no cost to families. Under the plan approved by lawmakers Wednesday, all Michigan public school students, regardless of income, will have no-cost breakfast and lunch provided through a combination of funding through the state and federal governments.

“Today is a historic day in Michigan: the Michigan Legislature has voted to create and fund the Healthy School Meals for All program - no-cost breakfast and lunch for all public-school students—in its state budget. Proper nutrition is a key component of a heart-healthy lifestyle, and ensuring all students' bodies are nourished so they can be ready to learn in the classroom sets them up to reach their full potential,” said Collin McDonough, American Heart Association Government Relations Director, Michigan

The American Heart Association, in partnership with No Kid Hungry Michigan and the School Nutrition Association of Michigan, formed the Michigan School Meals coalition to address the urgent need for Michigan to act on this issue.

The program includes language and funding to begin this program for those in grades pre-K to 12 and will start the first day of classes. Healthy School Meals for All ensures students are well-nourished and ready to learn while maximizing federal reimbursement dollars.

"Healthy School Meals for All will be transformational for our students and families. Not only will it help students learn - no one can focus on an empty stomach - it will help reduce the risk for chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes,” McDonough said.

In Michigan, one in seven kids face hunger. Food insecurity is also more prevalent among Black and Hispanic households and in rural communities. School programs provide an important source of nutrition for students through the school week.

Federal nutrition waivers, which began in March 2020 and granted all students no-cost breakfast and lunch in Michigan schools, have ended. As a result, schools returned to pre-pandemic operations charging co-pays and fees for students to consume meals at school.

“This tiered eligibility system leaves too many students behind, with students facing stigma and families often finding school meal co-pays burdensome,” McDonough added.

Expanding access to school meals allows more students to realize their nutritional and educational potential. And it helps strengthen school nutrition budgets by increasing participation in breakfast and lunch programs and eliminating unpaid meal charges.

“Healthy School Meals for All intersects both public health and education,” said Kim Baron, Director of School Health Services, Grand Rapids Public Schools. “Providing no-cost, healthy foods means we are giving our students the tools they need to succeed inside and outside the classroom. This funding is a common-sense way to improve student health outcomes and help families.”

Research has found strong parental support for no-cost school meals because they reduce household costs, save time and reduce stigma.

The American Heart Association says one-third of children are not only at an unhealthy weight but are also at increased risk of developing heart disease and diabetes. This means youth now have health conditions like high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels that were previously only associated with adults. Children are consuming too much sodium and added sugars and too few fruits and vegetables. However, research shows that school meals are more nutritious than lunches brought from home. Additionally, lunches of the National School Lunch Program participants were found to be more nutritious than lunches of those who do not participate in this program. Learn more about healthy eating at



About the American Heart Association
The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public's health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.


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