Hartford Foundation Submits Testimony in Support of Legislation to Expand School Meal Programs

Read the Foundation's Testimony

The Hartford Foundation submitted testimony to the General Assembly’s Committee on Children in support of Senate Bill 929, An Act Expanding School Meal Programs To Provide Free School Meals To All Students.

As part of our efforts to dismantle structural racism and advance equity in social and economic mobility in Greater Hartford's Black and Latinx communities, the Hartford Foundation supports basic human needs in our region, applying an equity lens to the systems and programs that address access to food, housing, physical and mental health, and the digital divide.

While the Foundation and other philanthropic organizations have and will continue to support this work, the state must lead the effort to prevent and eliminate food insecurity. Public commitment must also address the interplay of basic human needs, including access to healthy, nutritious food, and provide adequate support to the nonprofit organizations delivering these services.

To this end, the Foundation supports Senate Bill 929, An Act Expanding School Meal Programs To Provide Free School Meals To All. One in eight Connecticut children experience hunger, with Black and Latinx children making up a disproportionate share. By funding healthy school meals for all students, Connecticut can reduce child hunger and advance equity in health and education in nearly every community across the state.

Each year, the Foundation provides approximately $7 million in basic human needs grants to support both regional and local agencies in Greater Hartford. This past year, the Foundation awarded more than $1.4 million to support food programs that respond to emergency and short-term needs as well as food services during the holidays. Other services supported by our basic human needs grants include emergency housing, fuel assistance, medical and dental services, employment counseling, clothing and other personal care items.

As we witnessed with long lines at food distribution sites during the height of COVID-19, many middle and lower-income families struggle with food insecurity. Providing school meals offers some relief to families and ensures that those struggling to make ends meet don’t have to worry about lunch debt, or having to pack lunches on school days, reducing their grocery costs, which frees up resources for other necessities. 

The Hartford Foundation is ready to partner with legislators, the administration, advocates, philanthropy and other stakeholders to prevent and eliminate food insecurity.