California to become first state to offer free school meals to students

Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year, all California students will be able to receive free meals at school. 

According to the California Department of Education, California will become the first state to implement a statewide Universal Meals Program

Students in TK-12 will be given two meals free of charge each school day, breakfast and lunch, regardless of income status. This applies to students in public school districts, county offices of education and charter schools. 

The meal program is part of Assembly Bill (AB) 130 which was signed into law in 2021 by Gov. Gavin Newsom. According to the department of education, "AB 130 establishes a California Universal Meals Program with changes to the state meal mandate and new requirements for high poverty schools to apply for a federal provision, such as the Community Eligibility Provision or Provision 2."

The department says nutritious meals are a key pillar to help students thrive.