Lerner Center for Public Health Promotion and Population Health
Population Health Research Brief Series
Samantha Trajkovski, Amy Ellen Schwartz, and Michah W. Rothbart
The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the country's second largest food assistance program, serving free or reduced-price meals to 30 million students daily. A growing number of schools and districts offer Universal Free Meals (UFM), which provides free meals to all students regardless of income. This brief summarizes findings examining the relationship between exposure to UFM in kindergarten and attendance and weight outcomes in NYC students from grades K-3. The results demonstrate that children who receive free meals through UFM in kindergarten have better school attendance than those who do not. In addition, there is no evidence that receipt of free meals in kindergarten affects weight outcomes.