Back to School: Maine Invests in its Students
Maine’s lawmakers made two incredible strides forward for families during the 2021 legislative session:
For the first time since citizens established a threshold for state spending on education in a 2004 referendum, the state budget makes good on its promise to fund 55 percent of K-12 education costs. By increasing the state’s share of education funding, this spending reduces the strain on municipal budgets and helps to lower property taxes all over Maine.
The new budget also addresses food insecurity among Maine’s children. According to Feeding America, one in six Maine children experienced hunger in 2020 (some sources estimate up to one in four Maine children are food insecure). Families with children make up one-third of households receiving SNAP assistance.
Maine is now one of the first states in the country to provide every K-12 student with free school meals (breakfast and lunch), and the benefits of this policy cannot be understated. This overwhelmingly bipartisan program is expected to serve over 56 million free meals annually. In addition to relieving some of the strain faced by families relying on SNAP, it will cover families ineligible for SNAP that have fallen through the cracks. It is also expected to ease the stigma working families faced when using limited free school meal programs.
Quality food and education are basic needs that every child deserves. Mainers for Working Families applauds our lawmakers in Augusta for ensuring that our students have the tools they need to succeed as they grow.