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Black communities consistently face hunger at higher rates than other communities due to social, economic, and environmental challenges. 

The Issue

North Carolina “School Meals for All NC” Campaign


  • Children are going hungry in North Carolina.

    • Providing school meals to all public school students in North Carolina at no cost to their families is a clear way to reduce child hunger in the state. School meals are proven to be effective in relieving child hunger. Based on 2019 data, 121,646 children who are food insecure in North Carolina right now would no longer go hungry if they had access to school meals at no cost to their families.

  • Many kids don’t eat school meals due to shame or stigma.

    • Lunch shame and stigma are real. Research shows that most school districts in North Carolina do not prohibit lunch shaming practices like throwing away the food of the student without money or barring participation in critical moments like graduation. Schools are even allowed to call child protective services and debt collectors for school meal accounts that are in the red. To avoid this treatment, children will choose not to eat meals at all rather than risk repercussions. We can end this problem once and for all with no-cost school meals for all.


  • School nutrition programs are struggling with meal debt.

    • It’s true. By November 2022, schools in North Carolina had accrued more than $1.3 million in unpaid meal charges. It’s clear that families are still struggling to pay for school meals, and this has only increased since the start of COVID-19. 

    • The simplest solution to eliminate the possibility of school meal debt in North Carolina is to make school meals available to all students in public schools at no cost to their families. No child or family should be burdened with school meal debt, and school meals for all at no cost to families would eliminate that burden.


  • Students could be doing better in school.

    • Hungry kids can’t learn. But there is a solution: school meals for all. Study after study shows that no-cost school meals improve academic outcomes for students and schools. For example, a study in North Carolina found that there were significant improvements in 5th-grade science and middle school reading test scores for schools offering meals to all students at no cost to their families through the Community Eligibility Provision (CEP).

    • According to a 2021 report, North Carolina schools participating in CEP are more likely to have met growth targets and to have a higher performance grade compared to schools with similar income levels that don’t participate. Those schools also have higher academic performance on average compared to schools with similar income levels that don’t participate.

Take Action

  • Sign School Meals for All NC's Letter of Support

  • Campaign Coalition Meeting Registration | Every second Monday of each month | 1 - 2 pm


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