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Bernie Sanders and Ilhan Omar Want to Make School Lunch Free for All Students

Plus, Taco Bell recalls 2.3 million pounds of beef, and more news to start your day

Ilhan Omar and Bernie Sanders standing outside.
The legislation introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar would make school meals free for all students.
Photo: SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

Bernie Sanders and Ilhan Omar introduce universal school meals bill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) jointly introduced on Tuesday the Universal School Meals Program Act, a bill that would help provide three free meals per day for all U.S. school children.

Currently, only students from homes that make below a certain threshold (less than 185 percent of the poverty line, the equivalent of about $47,600 for a family of four) can apply for free or reduced-price lunch. Under the new bill, breakfast, lunch, dinner, and a snack would be free for all students. The legislation would also erase all school meal debt, prohibit school lunch shaming, increase the reimbursement rate to cover the cost of producing meals, provide a $0.30 per meal incentive for schools that buy local, and give lower-income children an extra $60 per month during the summer to help cover meals while school is out of session, according to a bill summary.

“In the richest country in the history of the world, when the top 1 percent are making more than they ever have before, it is simply outrageous that 1 in 5 children will go hungry this year,” said Sanders in a statement.

School meal debt and lunch shaming — the practice of denying students hot or standard lunches if their families have unpaid meal fees — have been recently spotlighted. Earlier this week, California banned lunch shaming with the signing of a bill that guarantees all students receive a meal of their choice even if they have accrued outstanding balances.

And in other news…

  • You might want to steer clear of Taco Bell for a little while: the chain has announced a recall of 2.3 million pounds of beef from restaurants in 21 states after metal shavings were found in the seasoned meat. [Grub Street]
  • Theme parks from Disneyland to Six Flags to Universal Studios are creating the most outrageous Halloween foods and drinks imaginable, all to get that sweet social media buzz. [LA Times]
  • Chuck E. Cheese has taken some of the things that best define a Chuck E. Cheese experience — games and pizza — and created an actually-cool-looking pizza delivery box that transforms into a skee-ball game. Now the only thing missing is a life-sized, nightmarish animatronic rat. [Brand Eating]
  • Those dramatic table displays of cheese, crackers, cured meats, dips, and other snacks that you may have seen on Instagram or at cocktail parties lately have a name — ”grazing tables” — and it seems they’re everywhere. [WSJ]

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