To Drastically Expand Free School Lunch, Oregon Taxes Businesses
By Sarah Zimmerman
Oregon is spending $40 million to dramatically expand its federal free breakfast and lunch program, ensuring that more than 60 percent of its 580,000 public school students will be included, the largest statewide effort in the country.
The program is based on providing free meals to any child whose family lives at up to three times the poverty level, which is $75,000 for a family of four.
The meals expansion program is tucked away in a new tax package for schools, a sweeping $1 billion annual investment explicitly dedicated to boosting student performance. It will be paid for through a new half a percent tax on business.
Chicago and New York City are among some major cities that offer free breakfast and lunch to all students, but this is the only statewide program according to Partners for a Hunger Free Oregon.
“Hungry kids don’t think about education nearly as much as having something in their stomach,” said Sen. Arnie Roblan, a Democrat from Coos Bay who helped craft the legislation.
Oregon will allow 761 schools to provide free lunch and breakfast to approximately 345,000 students.