California will be the first state to implement free lunches for all public school students in the 2022-23 school year. With more than 327,000 students in California public schools, the state will use the Universal Meals program according to the California Department of Education.
The Universal Meals program will be used to reach more students with the Federal National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program. The United States has about $262 million in school lunch debt a year, according to the Education Data Initiative.
NPR reported that 60% of California students qualify for free school meals, but there are more children who need help eating all three meals due to wide income inequality.
Free nutritionally-valued meals are available to all students, regardless of eligibility, through the Universal Meals Program.
Prior to this program, students were entitled to free meals based on specific criteria which included aspects such as their parents’ income tax, level of poverty in the area surrounding the school and the postal code where the student lives. family.
ABC News 10 reported that Governor Gavin Newson has approved funds for one-time expansions of nutrition services and cooking capacity in schools to prepare for the introduction of the universal meals program in 2021.
Prior to the introduction of the new scheme, students only received free meals if they qualified and applied.
“It’s just for the poorest families, and not even all of them because some people didn’t sign up or were afraid to sign up,” said Kat Taylor, a philanthropist and lead funder who backed the plan. from California, to NPR.
The Universal Meal Program is designed to help feed students who need meals and reduce the number of checkpoints students must pass.