Thanks to the Universal Meals Program, California is set to become the first state to implement a free school meals program for students.
The colossal move starts this fall term, with all public school students benefitting from free breakfast and lunch, regardless of family income.
The move will impact a whopping 6 million school children and was put into place thanks to a new budget surplus set up by the state, to ensure every child gets the proper nutrition they need throughout the school day.
It is part of the new Assembly Bill 130 signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom in 2021. The bill focused on extra educational funding for public schools and was met with great support from Democrats and Republicans at the time.
Some government officials even shared their own reasons as to why they supported the bill, and Republican State Sen. Brian Dahle’s reason proves just how beneficial this program will be.
Dahle revealed last year that he had witnessed children from his kids’ school eat other students’ leftovers because they couldn’t afford lunch. “For a lot of them that was their dinner and they were sneaking it or taking it off someone’s plate when they didn’t finish it,” Dahle told AP.
Some school officials also spoke out, with associate superintendent Tony Wold telling AP at the time that he thinks the move is way overdue.
“Just like you need to give students textbooks and a computer, there are certain things you need to do,” Wold said. “And this is one of them.”
We couldn’t agree more!
Before the bill was signed, families of 4 had to make less than $34,000 a year to qualify for free meals, and some were missing the mark by just hundreds.
And California’s high cost of living, as well as food insecurity on the rise, many households are struggling to feed their family, so the news has come as a huge relief for millions living on the breadline.
Many have taken to social media to express how life-changing it will be for them, and how essential the new program is.
One Twitter user wrote: “I worked in Ca public schools as a substitute teacher in elementary grades, over the past several years. Free lunches were available to all students. They had choices, the selection was balanced & healthy; some brought their own from home. This is how it should be in all schools!”
While another commented: “As a cafeteria worker I thank you Cali for doing the right thing! Make sure these kids are fed every day! Now make this available in ALL states!”
What do you think?