“A Game Changer for Students Across Our State:” 2023-24 Budget Provides Universal Free Breakfast to 1.7 Million PA Students

HARRISBURG, Aug. 17 – Governor Josh Shapiro knows that Pennsylvania students cannot expect to learn and succeed on an empty stomach – which is why he proposed providing free breakfast to every child in public schools in his first budget address. The 2023-24 budget delivers on this proposal – providing a $46.5 million increase to provide universal free breakfast to Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million public school students

Thanks to this increase, every public school student regardless of income will be eligible to receive free breakfast. The funding also provides free lunch to all 22,000 Pennsylvania students who are eligible for reduced-price lunches through the National School Lunch Program.

Read what Pennsylvania students and teachers are saying about the historic investment in universal free breakfast:

Reading School District Superintendent Dr. Jennifer Murray: “I want to also express my sincere gratitude to Governor Shapiro and his team, which includes our own Dr. Mumin – now Secretary of Education Mumin – for their presence and continued support of our Reading School District. We celebrate the accomplishment and applaud Governor Shapiro and his team who, with other elected officials, have passed a budget that has the largest increase for education in Pennsylvania history. This funding is far reaching and includes free universal breakfast for children. This universal breakfast program is significant and will guarantee all students – approximately 70,000 across Berks County alone – and the countless others across the Commonwealth have access to a healthy, nutritious breakfast.”

Reading School District Social Worker Marsha Ganter: “Children need nutritious food on a consistent basis to learn and grow to their potential. Universal school breakfast is a huge step in the right direction for all the students in Pennsylvania and we thank Governor Shapiro for your work advocating that this program continue.”

Assistant Superintendent of the Penn Hills School District Dawn Golden: “By signing into law a commonsense, bipartisan budget that delivers on one of Governor Shapiro’s top priorities of investing in K-12 public schools, we will see the largest increase in Basic Education Funding Formula in Pennsylvania history. The budget also provides funding for universal free breakfast for every public school student to make sure students are well prepared when they enter our classrooms. Governor Shapiro is showing his commitment to investing in Pennsylvania’s education system.”

Scranton School District Elementary School Teacher Laura Sosik: “Providing free universal breakfast to all students in Pennsylvania is a game-changer for students across our state. Not only will it provide students with a healthy start to their day, it removes the burden from hard-working parents who can now count on their children’s schools to serve them a nutritious meal to fuel their bodies and minds. Governor Shapiro is putting students first by funding this program.”

Founder and CEO of Child Hunger Outreach Partners Danielle Ruhf: “By providing universal free breakfast to Pennsylvania public school students we not only reduce hunger for students, we are also combatting stigma typically associated with food insecurity. Well-fed children are more likely to attend school, be better learners, and are more willing to participate in and out of the classroom. This is a true investment in our community and future.”   

The Nutrition Group President, School Food Service, Nancy Kohl: “We’re thrilled that every student will have access to a healthy, nutritious and delicious breakfast at no cost to them or their families.”

Read what Pennsylvania leaders are saying:

Senator Jay Costa: “Thank you for coming to Penn Hills, Governor Shapiro. Kids can’t learn when they’re hungry and free breakfast will be life changing for so many families in this district and others statewide.”

Representative Matt Bradford: “No child should have to learn on an empty stomach. That’s why PA House Dems and Governor Shapiro championed universal free breakfast in K-12 schools in this year’s #pabudget! 119,385 Montco students will have access to free breakfast when they return to school this fall.”

Senator Katie Muth: “One of the bright spots in this year’s budget was funding provisioned for universal free breakfast for each of Pennsylvania’s 1.7 million public school students.”

Senator Lindsey Williams: “Students will be heading back to school in the next few weeks and knowing that they will be able to start every day ready to learn with a healthy breakfast is a huge relief for families and schools. School meals are just as essential to learning as textbooks and pencils– students can’t learn when they’re hungry. I’m incredibly glad to see this program funded for the 2023-24 school year as we work to make this cornerstone of food security for students permanent.”

Senator Judy Schwank: “Starting the day with a complete, nutritious meal sets students up for success in the classroom. So many kids have benefitted from the federal funding for school breakfast over the past few years. It would have been wrong to roll back universal breakfast, considering how many of our students have come to rely on these meals. I’m incredibly proud that Pennsylvania has stepped up to continue to provide breakfast for our students in this year’s budget. I give a ton of credit to Gov. Shapiro for making this item a priority and delivering for Pennsylvania’s students.”

Senator Carolyn Comitta: “Starting the day with a nutritious breakfast is a proven way to help students perform better in the classroom. That’s why I am glad that this year’s budget includes universal free breakfast in our schools, because no student should have to learn on an empty stomach.”

Representative Ben Sanchez: The budget that Gov. Josh Shapiro signed into law earlier this month includes universal free breakfast for public school students. Here in Montgomery County, that means 119,385 students will be eligible for free breakfast.

Representative Jeanna McNeill: “Thanks to Gov. Josh Shapiro signing the 2023-24 budget, students across the commonwealth will have access to universal free breakfast, including 55,266 students in Lehigh County. This is incredible as kids will get a healthy meal to start their school day off right.”

Representative Manny Guzman: “I was one of those kids who came to school hungry, was in class hungry, and I wondered where I was going to get my next meal – and it was because I came to the school yesterday that at least my parents could depend on. We don’t need any more generations of Manny Guzmans to go hungry in the Reading School District. And now because of this General Assembly, and this Governor, that will never happen again. Because this General Assembly, and this Governor recognizes that in order for our kids to have the future to be able to compete in this global economy, they can’t go to school and be in school hungry.”

Representative Danilo Burgos: “Governor Shapiro secured free breakfast for every public-school student in Philadelphia under 2023-2024 fiscal year budget. The spending plan includes the largest increase in Basic Education Funding in Pennsylvania history.

Representative Anthony Bellmon: “This year’s state budget ensures free breakfast for students in every public school across Pennsylvania. This will provide free breakfast to more than 184,000 students here in Philadelphia!”

Representative Lisa Borowski: “Part of the state budget’s investment into K-12 education is ensuring every public school student has access to breakfast, at no cost to their family. No kid can learn on an empty stomach – but they come to school hungry for a variety of reasons, from financial instability to a hectic family schedule. This commonsense investment into *their* success is an investment into the future for *all of us.*  Nearly 78,000 Delco kids will benefit – I call that a win.”