As TK-12 students across California return to school in the upcoming weeks, they will be greeted with a groundbreaking surprise: free school meals.
Gov. Gavin Newsom signed legislation implementing the Universal Meals Program, a state mandate that all public and charter schools provide at least two free meals every day for students upon request.
Prior, the state operated with a free and reduced meals program, in which eligibility was determined by household income. However, the new program for the 2022-23 school year will require schools to serve all students for free, according to a California Department of Education press release.
The legislation also provides $150 million in funding for kitchen upgrades and nutrition-related staff training to prepare schools for implementation of the program.