Skip Navigation
We use cookies to offer you a better browsing experience, provide ads, analyze site traffic, and personalize content. If you continue to use this site, you consent to our use of cookies.
NEA Issue Explainer

Child Nutrition

Students need healthy, nutritious school meals that are free to all and prepare them for learning.
A woman loads groceries into cardboard boxes
Published: December 2, 2021
This issue explainer originally appeared on

School meal programs are important in fighting child hunger.

When students participate in school meals programs, their behavior, comprehension, and attendance improve.

The meals they receive at home are just as important, and that’s why the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is a lifeline for families struggling with food insecurity.

Nutritious meals prepare children for learning and shape their food choices and health outcomes as adults.  

Section with embed

Help students get the healthy meals they need. Ask Congress to fund free school meals for all students, hands-on training and professional development for school food-service staff, and up-to-date equipment for school kitchens, and to protect and strengthen SNAP—our nation’s most effective anti-hunger program. 

Our History of Fighting for Child Nutrition


School Lunch Program Esablished

President Truman signs the Richard B. Russell National School Lunch Act, providing low-cost or free school lunch meals to qualified students through subsidies to schools.

School Meals now Include Breakfast

President Johnson signs the Child Nutrition Act, building on the National School Lunch Act and creating the School Breakfast Program.

Expanded the Federal Subsidies

President Clinton signs the William Goodling Child Nutrition Reauthorization Act, extending authorizations for child nutrition programs.

Tackling Nutrition and Physical Activity

President George W. Bush signs the Child Nutrition and Women Infants and Children Reauthorization Act of 2004, which requires school districts with federally funded school meal programs to have policies addressing nutrition and physical activity.

Making School Meals Healthier, More Available

President Obama signs the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, which funds child nutrition programs, sets new nutrition standards for schools, and creates the Community Eligibility Provision, allowing all students in certain high-poverty schools to eat meals at no charge.

Speak Up For Students and Public Schools

When we act together and lift our voices together in unison, we can improve the lives of children.
Members march down the street wearing red and carrying signs.

Together we're stronger. Together we're heard.

You belong in the movement! Join today to belong to the movement of educators and school staff fighting for the pay and working conditions we all deserve.

Keeping the Promise of Quality Public Education

The Oregon Education Association (OEA) is a union committed to the cause of providing the basic right of great public education to every student. OEA represents about 41,000 educators working in pre-kindergarten through grade 12 public schools and community colleges. OEA’s membership includes licensed teachers and specialists, classified/education support professionals (ESPs), community college faculty, retired educators, and student members. OEA members also belong to the 3.2 million members of the National Education Association (NEA).