California Becomes First State To Offer Free School Lunches For All Children

California has become the first state to offer free school breakfasts and lunches for all children.

California’s Universal Meals Program was signed into law on July 9, 2021 as part of Assembly Bill 130.

According to the California Department of Education, the program will build upon the foundations of the federal National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program.


Under those programs, free and reduced-cost meals are offered to children experiencing hardships. Children may be eligible for the meals if participate in government assistance programs or if they’re homeless, a migrant, a runaway, or a foster child, among other things.

Under California’s Universal Meals Program, all school children will be offered a free nutritionally adequate breakfast and lunch, regardless of their parent’s income.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The California Department of Education explains that the program has three key pillars to make it a success:

Pillar One: The program will include both a nutritiously adequate breakfast and lunch for, not just needy children, but all children each school day.

Pillar Two: High-poverty schools will be required to participate in a federal provision.

Pillar Three: Funding is allocated by the California State Legislature to provide additional state meal reimbursement to cover the cost of the Universal Meals Program.

Photo: flickr/Meal Makeover Moms

According to ABC News, one out of every five Californians does not know where their next meal will come from.

Beyond that, in the U.S. last year, an estimated one in six children experienced food insecurity, Feeding Amercia reports.

Sometimes even children with well-off parents or those who aren’t considered “needy” may experience food insecurities due to negilence or other circumstances. The Universal Meals Program should increase access to nutritional food for children across the state.

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