Oklahoma City, Sept. 29, 2023 — In an effort to support nutrition security and reduce hunger among Oklahoma school children, the American Heart Association, a global force for longer, healthier lives for all, will participate in an interim study on free school meals in Oklahoma schools.
The interim study will be held from 8-11 a.m. Monday, Oct. 2 in Room 206 of the Oklahoma State Capitol. The meeting will also be live streamed on the Oklahoma House of Representatives site.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), issued waivers to schools allowing them to provide healthy school meals to all children at no charge, no matter their income level. These waivers ended in June 2022, meaning many children on the cusp of eligibility or worried about the stigma of receiving free or reduced-price meals no longer receive the healthy meals they need.
“Millions of children nationally rely on their schools for a healthy breakfast and lunch,” said Alisa Northcutt, government relations director for the American Heart Association in Oklahoma. “Providing healthy school meals for all can remove financial burdens for families, provide children who might be on the edge of eligibility access to nutritious meals, mitigate the stigma some students face in their school cafeteria, and help programs maintain fiscal integrity.
Studies suggest a healthy diet is associated with improved academic achievement and certain breakfast programs can lead to increased attendance.
State Reps. John Waldron of Tulsa, Annie Menz of Norman and Sen. Jessica Garvin of Duncan requested an interim study on the issue, saying it is worthy of more in-depth consideration.
“Effective school nutrition programs are a boost to learning and a powerful way to fight food insecurity. Our study will examine the data to show how we can improve and expand school lunch access to yield even more benefits to Oklahoma school children,” Waldron said.
Sen. Garvin and Rep. Lawson said they have been working with stakeholders from across the state to help determine best practices to support families in Oklahoma through the Governor’s Child Welfare Task Force. They said addressing childhood hunger plays a large role in positive educational outcomes and the overall health and well-being of Oklahomans, so they’re excited to participate in the interim study and said they believe the data will support the work of the task force in the past eight months.
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 heart.org, Facebook, X or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.
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