The pandemic has shown how important healthy school meals are for children. More than 180 organizations representing school nutrition directors, teachers, labor organizations, and agriculture support free school meals for all.
June 3, 2021 - (Sacramento, CA) - In an historic early agreement on the Legislature’s Budget, California is poised to be the first state to permanently adopt free school meals for all students. A coalition of nearly 200 health, nutrition, education, labor, community-based organizations, and food banks is now calling on Governor Gavin Newsom to support the Legislature’s Budget proposal and adopt ongoing funding for School Meals for All to help end child hunger, improve learning and behavior, create less bureaucracy, and help close the achievement gap in our schools.
In the 2019-20 school year, more than 3.6 million California students received free or reduced price meals — nearly 60% of all students in the state, according to the California Department of Education. In the 2020-21 school year, even during the pandemic, about 3.5 million students were served.
The legislature’s proposal calls for a $54 million increase in state reimbursements for the 2021-22 fiscal year, then $650 million a year starting in the 2022-23 fiscal year to cover the costs of offering breakfast and lunch for all public school students.
THE SCHOOL MEALS FOR ALL ACT of 2021 would provide every California student with free school meals (breakfast and lunch) while promoting access to healthy, freshly prepared food grown by California farmers. The bill prioritizes low-income children, ensures that schools are adequately funded for their meal programs, and maximizes the drawdown of federal dollars for California school meals. The legislation is co-authored by more than 25 legislators across California.
The bill also establishes the Better Out of School Time (BOOST) Nutrition Program to prevent child hunger during regularly scheduled school breaks lasting a week or longer, or a campus closure caused by a natural or public health disaster or other state of emergency.
Let's make free school meals for all permanent in California
One of the best ways to help Fresno County schoolkids learn? Feed them free school meals
The pandemic has made school lunch free for all public school students. Advocates are hoping to make the change permanent.
State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, introduced a bill that could give CA public school students access to free meals.
As students gradually return to classrooms, advocates and lawmakers say it’s more important than ever to provide free meals in schools