No lunch money? No problem.
California is set to become the first state in the U.S. to give free school lunches to all of its students. Starting this upcoming school year, 2022-2023, all public school students in the state can get free lunch and breakfast thanks to the Universal Meals Program.
The new program, which will affect more than 6 million public school students, was made possible thanks to the state’s large budget surplus. The program is part of state Assembly Bill 130, which focuses on education finance and was signed by Gov. Gavin Newsom last year.
The bill received overwhelming support from Democrats and Republicans alike. Republican State Sen. Brian Dahle told the Associated Press last year he had watched kids at his own children’s school steal leftovers because they couldn’t afford a full meal.
“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 the publication at the time.
Now no child will have to go hungry at school, regardless of their family’s income level. Tony Wold, an associate superintendent of the West Contra Costa Unified School, told the AP last year that it’s about time school lunches were free.
“Just like you need to give students textbooks and a computer, there are certain things you need to do,” Wold told the publication. “And this is one of them.”