School Lunch for All continues the fight for universal free school meals for K-12 students for the 2020-2021 academic year. Campaign partner/spokesperson Marsai Martin of black-ish, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR-First District), Urban School Food Alliance, Student Voice, and Dwight and Anya Howard participated in a digital discussion to raise awareness with press and the public around the issue and proposed legislation this Thursday, August 8.

Congresswoman Bonamici spoke at the event about her bill, the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act, which would provide free school meals to all children for the 2020-2021 school year.

The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act is co-led by Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-VA-03), Rep. Marcia Fudge (D-OH-11), Rep. Jim McGovern (D-MA-02), and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN-05).

Congresswoman Bonamici is a leader on child nutrition and hunger in Congress as a member of the Congressional Hunger Caucus and the Chair of the Subcommittee on Civil Rights and Human Services. During the pandemic, her bipartisan bill, the COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response Act, created a nationwide waiver authority to allow schools to continue serving meals to students during school closures.

“Students need nutritious meals to help them stay healthy while they learn and grow,” said Congresswoman Bonamici. “The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act will make sure all students can reach their full potential, no matter where students are learning this upcoming school year. I’ll keep fighting to make sure that any deal that emerges from negotiations for the next stimulus relief package includes a way to prevent child hunger during this crisis. It’s the right thing to do for our children and families.”

Black-ish actor Marsai Martin lent her star power to further amplify the cause, and Anya Howard, an elementary student from Indiana who garnered national attention last year when she was lunch-shamed and denied hot school lunch —  over less than a dollar of school lunch debt — also participated in the discussion. 

“There is no [acceptable circumstance], in any situation, for a child to be lunch shamed. With that comes humiliation,” said Dwight Howard. “I don’t want any child to go through that.” 

Martin, whose grandmother was a school lunch lady, reiterated Howard’s sentiments about the importance of universal free school lunch. “When I hear about the amount of kids who come home every day without eating anything at school…it really pains me,” said Martin. “Mentally, I know that messes [kids] up.” She also said she knows her grandmother would be proud of the School Lunch for All initiative and the efforts to pass the Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act. 

Back in July, Martin helped to kick off the School Lunch for All campaign by encouraging her followers to sign a change.org petition which has garnered more than 20,000 signatures in less than a month. School Lunch for All is a national campaign led by The Soze Agency and Galaxy Gives to ensure that school meals are provided, free of charge, to every K-12 student in America. The black-ish and Little star also authored an op-ed for Teen Vogue on the issue and has used her social media platform to raise additional awareness.

The Pandemic Child Hunger Prevention Act is also endorsed by AASA, The School Superintendents Association; the American Academy of Pediatrics; Food Research and Action Center (FRAC); the National Education Association (NEA); the American Federation of Teachers (AFT); the School Nutrition Association; the American Public Health Association; Center for American Progress; Hunger Free America; UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity; FoodCorps; National Farm to School Network; Bread for the World; American Commodity Distribution Association; National Association of School Nurses; Children’s HealthWatch; Trust for America’s Health; National PTA; United Fresh Produce Association; MomsRising; Urban School Food Alliance; the American Heart Association; MAZON: A Jewish Response to Hunger; the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics; and Center for Science in the Public Interest.