22Mar2023... 0904h







AN ACT relative to eligibility for free school meals.


SPONSORS: Rep. Hall, Merr. 9; Rep. Cascadden, Coos 5; Rep. Ellison, Merr. 28; Rep. M. Murray, Hills. 37; Rep. Burroughs, Carr. 2; Rep. Woodcock, Carr. 1; Rep. Rombeau, Hills. 2; Rep. Myler, Merr. 9; Rep. Cornell, Hills. 22; Rep. Tanner, Sull. 5


COMMITTEE: Education






This bill increases the eligibility for free school meals to household incomes up to 300 percent of federal poverty guidelines, and provides funding fro the education trust fund for the additional costs.


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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.

Matter removed from current law appears [in brackets and struckthrough.]

Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.

22Mar2023... 0904h 23-0373





In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Twenty Three


AN ACT relative to eligibility for free school meals.


Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:


1  Schools; Food and Nutrition Programs; School Lunch Eligibility.  Amend RSA 189:11-a, I to read as follows:

I.(a)  Each school board shall make at least one meal available during school hours to every pupil under its jurisdiction. Such meals shall be served without cost [or at a reduced cost to any child who meets federal income eligibility guidelines] to any child whose annual household income is less than or equal to 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines as updated annually in the Federal Register by the United States Department of Health and Human Services under 42 U.S.C. section 9902(2). The state board of education shall ensure compliance with this section and shall establish minimum nutritional standards for such meals as well as income guidelines set for the family size used in determining eligibility for free and reduced price meals. Nothing in this section shall prohibit the operation of both a breakfast and lunch program in the same school.

(b)  All costs for the school meals program under subparagraph (a) in addition to sums allocated under RSA 186:13, XI, shall be funded by disbursements from the department of education to the school districts, made from funds appropriated for such purpose from the education trust fund.  The amount necessary to fund this paragraph is hereby appropriated to the department from the education trust fund created under RSA 198:39.  The governor is authorized to draw a warrant from the education trust fund to satisfy the state's obligation under this paragraph.

2  Education Trust Fund; School Meals.  Amend the introductory paragraph of RSA 198:39, I to read as follows:

I.  The state treasurer shall establish an education trust fund in the treasury.  Moneys in such fund shall not be used for any purpose other than to distribute adequate education grants to municipalities' school districts and to approved charter schools pursuant to RSA 198:42, to provide low and moderate income homeowners property tax relief under RSA 198:56-198:61, to distribute school building aid to school districts and approved chartered public schools pursuant to RSA 198:15-b, to distribute tuition and transportation funds to school districts for students attending career and technical education programs pursuant to RSA 188-E:9, to distribute special education aid to school districts pursuant to RSA 186-C:18, to fund department of education operating costs for a state student data collection and reporting system, to fund disbursements for school meals under RSA 189:11-a, and to fund kindergarten programs as may be determined by the general court

3  Effective Date.  This act shall take effect September 1, 2023.




Amended 4/18/23





AN ACT relative to eligibility for free school meals.


FISCAL IMPACT:      [ X ] State              [    ] County               [ X ] Local              [    ] None




Estimated Increase / (Decrease)


FY 2023

FY 2024

FY 2025

FY 2026



State Education Trust Fund (ETF) "Open Warrant"








Significant Increase

$50M+ Per Year - ETF Disbursements to Districts

$309K+ Per Year - New Staffing Costs

Funding Source:

  [ X ] General            [ X ] Education            [   ] Highway           [    ] Other













Significant Increase -

Reimbursement Revenue From State ETF



Significant Increase -

 Mostly Offset by Reimbursement Revenue



This bill requires that each school board make at least one meal available to a child that qualifies based on a household income less than or equal to 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines without cost. The implementation of this bill will impact public schools that are currently serving a breakfast and/or lunch meal and increase the number of free meals to students. There will be a fiscal liability for public schools that are currently serving a breakfast and/or lunch meal and there will be a fiscal liability for the state. Ultimately, this bill’s fiscal impact in FY 2024 and each year thereafter is indeterminable, however, it is expected to be significant and would be covered in full as this bill includes “open warrant” language for the Department to draw from the education trust fund to make all necessary payments.


 The Department of Education has provided the following information, and assumptions, to illustrate the potential fiscal impact of this bill:












Local School District Expenditures

Using the above assumptions and calculations, the Department states this bill’s fiscal impact is indeterminable at the local level, but it is important to highlight there will be a significant amount of work needing to be done in order to make the eligibility determinations and there will definitely be costs incurred at the local level in order to meet the requirements. The local education agencies currently have had significant issues with being able to collect free and reduced applications from families and this will require collecting applications from many more families/students.



Department of Education