Governor Signs Landmark Healthy School Meals for All Legislation

SB 348 Protects Children’s Health, Aligns CA With Pediatrician-Recommended Guidelines for Added Sugar and Salt in School Meals

Sacramento – Governor Newsom has added his signature to SB 348 (Skinner), making California the first state in the nation to codify President Joe Biden’s new federal nutrition guidelines aimed at reducing added salt and sugar in school meals. Enshrining the updated nutrition guidelines in state law means students across the state will have access to school meal options that meet pediatrician-recommended levels of added sugar and salt. This historic measure, which earned unanimous and bipartisan support of both the Senate and the Assembly, also explores best practices for ensuring students have adequate time to eat. 

“California was the first state to provide two free meals a day to all public school students, so it’s fitting that California is now the first state to ensure that school meals are healthy and don’t contribute to lifelong health problems,” said Sen. Skinner, D-Berkeley. “Gov. Newsom’s signing of SB 348 codifies President Biden’ standards so that California’s school meals will meet the nutrition guidelines for added sugar and salt recommended by America’s pediatricians, making California, once again, a national leader in the fight against diabetes and other health issues.”

 SB 348, also known as Healthy School Meals for All, builds on another landmark California law – authored by Sen. Skinner and established through the state budget in 2021 – which provides two free school meals for every student.  

 “Building a healthy future for California’s children starts with ensuring they have access to healthy meals at school every day,” said Mary Ann Bauman, M.D., President, Western States Board of Directors, American Heart Association. “Governor Newsom’s signature on SB 348 means California will provide students with better brain fuel through school meals that contain less sugar and sodium. Thanks to Senator Skinner’s leadership, access to healthy school meals that protect young people from diet-related conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity will be the standard in California for generations to come.”

“This is a victory not just for California kids but for everyone in this state,” said Becky Silva, director of government relations for the California Association of Food Banks. “This bill both strengthens the nutritional value of school meals and also ensures students have adequate time to eat those meals — inspiring kids to eat more fruits and vegetables to power their education. We are grateful for Senator Skinner’s unwavering commitment and steadfast leadership in getting this done.”

 “Healthy School Meals for All builds on Califorrnia’s first-in-the-nation universal school meals program by making sure every free meal students receive meets sugar and sodium standards recommended by pediatricians and nutrition experts,” said Kat Taylor, Co-founder, TomKat Ranch. “Thanks to Governor Newsom and Senator Skinner’s leadership, along with the support of the entire legislature, millions of children will have the opportunity to choose meals at school that support their life-long health, and success in the classroom and beyond.”

 Healthy School Meals for All enjoyed a broad and diverse coalition of support made up of nearly 160 organizations representing public health experts, agriculture, food aid, labor, and faith leaders – among many others. The measure was cosponsored by the Office of Kat Taylor, American Heart Association, California Academy of Nutrition of Dietetics, California Association of Food Banks, Dolores Huerta Foundation, Eat REAL, Gasol Foundation, GRACE End Child Poverty California, No Kid Hungry California, and the California Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond.