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.
"As a first-generation American whose parents had limited educational opportunities, I know what it means to grow up as one of Central Valley’s “vulnerable” children. And as a Fresno Unified school board member and the founder of the nonprofit Cultiva La Salud, I have come to learn that there are real solutions to preventing childhood hunger and closing the racial achievement gap in our schools."
"The pandemic has highlighted what we’ve known for a long time — hunger is widespread. In Palm Springs, for example, the number of students eligible for free or reduced-price school meals has steadily increased, from 83.5% in 2016 to 89.7% in 2020. The economic fallout from the pandemic has made things worse"
At the start of the pandemic, Crespi Middle School teacher Sierra Barton volunteered to pass out food at West Contra Costa Unified's Pinole Valley High School.
As students gradually return to classrooms, advocates and lawmakers say it’s more important than ever to provide free meals in schools without burdensome eligibility requirements, just as California has done during the pandemic.
The “Free School Meals For All” bill, SB 364, introduced last month by East Bay Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, would establish a statewide Universal Meal Plan starting in the 2022-2023 school year. It would guarantee free breakfast and lunch for all California students and eliminate the application process that proved a barrier to many families. Though New York City, Chicago and other U.S. cities have created such programs, California would be the first to do it statewide.
April 7, 2021 - (Sacramento, CA) - A growing coalition of voices from across California called on lawmakers to support legislation that would ensure every student has access to freshly prepared school meals during an April 7th California Senate Education hearing on SB 364, the “School Meals for All Act of 2021.” School nutrition directors, teachers, labor organizations, nutrition education experts, environmental groups, public health and child poverty advocates, as well as ranchers and farmers, say increasing access to school meals would reduce stigma, improve student behavior and health, invest in school nutrition workers, and support local farmers.
The pandemic has made school lunch free for all public school students. Advocates are hoping to make the change permanent.
CA Senator Nancy Skinner proposes ‘School Meals for All’
State Sen. Nancy Skinner, D-Berkeley, introduced a bill that could give CA public school students access to free meals.