Revamping School Meal Programs: A Reform Call

Recent Applied Developmental Psychology MA graduates, Katrina Gagliano and Monica Yassa, tackle the defects in the current U.S. School Meal Program (SMP) in their recent article. In "Stop the Shame and Hunger: The Need for School Meal Program Reform," the authors highlight the program's limitations in addressing students' holistic needs, especially in the wake of COVID-19.

Gagliano and Yassa stress the struggles of state and local education agencies in implementing effective eligibility, enrollment, and debt-collection processes, resulting in harmful practices like lunch shaming. Their article calls for immediate reform, suggesting greater federal regulation, guidance, and review processes to support successful SMP implementation. The authors also advocate for a reevaluation of available federal options to increase access to school meals.

With an eye on the challenges posed by the pandemic and heightened food insecurity, the authors urge education agencies to adapt their practices to meet students' comprehensive nutritional needs. Their research proposes crucial reforms to ensure the SMP fulfills its ultimate goal – providing essential nutritional support for students to thrive academically and emotionally.

Read the full article here: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0190740923004413