California becomes the first state to give free school lunches to students

No lunch money? No problem.

California will become the first state in the US to give free school lunches to all its students. Beginning this upcoming school year, 2022-2023, all public school students in the state can enjoy 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 funding and was signed last year by Gov. Gavin Newsom.

The bill received overwhelming support from both Democrats and Republicans. Republican Senator Brian Dahle told the Associated Press last year that he had seen 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 tearing it down or taking it off someone’s plate when they didn’t finish it,” Dahle told the publication at the time.

Now no child has to go hungry in school, regardless of family income. Tony Wold, a co-inspector of the West Contra Costa Unified School, told the AP last year that it’s time for school lunches to become free.

“Just like you have to give students textbooks and a computer, there are certain things you have to do,” Wold told the publication. “And this is one of them.”

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