USA Today: California to provide free breakfast, lunch for students in first statewide meals program

By Marina Pitofsky

August 12, 2022

When schoolchildren return to California classrooms for the 2022-2023 school year, they will all be eligible for free breakfast and lunch, no matter their family’s income level.

California’s Universal Meals Program will provide funding for breakfast and lunch each school day to students who request a meal, regardless of whether they qualify for free or reduced price meals already. It will include students in state public school districts, charter schools and other public classrooms across the state.

The program means California is the first state in the country to have a free statewide school meals program, according to multiple reports. After California’s action Maine officials also approved a similar program taking effect this year.

The income caps for students receiving free or reduced price meals change annually, tied to federal poverty measures. The Associated Press reported last year that a family of four must have made less than $34,000 per year for a student to qualify for free meals. They must have made less than $48,000 to qualify for reduced-price meals.

The food program is part of state Assembly Bill 130, which Democratic California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law last year.

Erin Primer, director of food and nutrition services for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District, told the Associated Press last year the free meals are “historic” and “beyond life-changing” for students.

“We’ve completely leveled the playing field when it comes to school food,” she said.

Read the complete article at USA Today.