California Universal Meals Program Offers Students Free Breakfast And Lunch

California Universal Meals Program

More than 5.8 million students will benefit from the California Universal Meals Program

For each school day, the California Universal Meals Program will provide students free breakfast and lunch upon request, regardless of whether they’re eligible for free or reduced price meals. Students from state public school districts, charter schools, and other public classrooms across the state of California are all included in the program.

The Golden State is the first state in the entire nation to offer students free breakfast and lunch. According to the California Board of Education, this new initiative expands upon the federal National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, and it’ll make an impact on more than 5.8 million students that are currently enrolled in public schools across the U.S.

The California Universal Meals Program is funded by state and federal governments and is introduced as families across the nation are being affected by inflation and rising food prices. Every year, income caps that offer discounted or free breakfast and lunch have fluctuated.

A report from the Associated Press showed that last year, a family of four had to make less than $34,000 annually for a student to be eligible for free meals. To be eligible for reduced-price meals, they had to make less than $48,000 annually.

Signed into law in 2021 by Democratic California Governor Gavin Newsom, the California Universal Meals Program is part of state Assembly Bill 130. According to Feeding America, 1 in 6 children in the U.S. experienced food security last year.

“We commend Governor Newsom for recognizing the importance of universal school meals and continuing to provide the crucial ongoing funding to combat food insecurity so our kids can learn and thrive in the classroom,” said No Kid Hungry California Director Kathy Saile.


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