Child Health

School Meals Support Ohio Student Health and Learning

February 17, 2023 | Ohio

School Meals Support Ohio Student Health and Learning

New white paper looks at the problems of child hunger in Ohio and the essential role school meals play in alleviating child hunger and improving child well-being

By Katherine Ungar, Senior Policy Associate | February 17, 2023


One in six children, and as many as one in four children in certain counties, lives in a household that faces hunger—that’s 413,000 kids across Ohio. Yet more than one in three kids that live in a food insecure household doesn’t qualify for school meals.

It’s clear: hunger in Ohio remains unacceptably high.

CDF-Ohio’s new white paper explores recent data on child hunger and food insecurity – outlining the essential role that healthy school meals for all students can play in addressing this critical issue and the problems Ohioans and their children are experiencing that are symptomatic of this root issue, such as school lunch debt and lunch shaming.

The issues are wide-ranging, but we have the solution – increasing access to school meals to improve the well-being of all children.


Ensuring access to school meals for all:

  • Increases future potential. Ensuring kids get healthy food is a critical step on the path out of poverty and into the workforce. When you have stronger, smarter, healthier kids, you have a stronger, smarter, healthier, more economically competitive state. This is good for Ohio.
  • Improves Student Success. Students who eat breakfast at school attend more days of school, show improvements in test scores, graduate at higher rates, and earn more as adults.
  • Meets the needs of children and working parents. In listening circles with parents and students from CDF’s Freedom School Sites in Ohio, the idea of universal meals emerged as a key issue. Access to school meals take some of the burden off busy parents and families and helps ease the stress on working families.

Download the new white paper here.