California Becomes First State to Offer Free School Meals to All Children

With inflation and food insecurity on the rise, California education leaders are giving parents one less thing to worry about: school lunches.

Starting this year, all school children will be eligible for free breakfast and lunch, no matter their family’s income level.

“A lot of people like me are thankful,” said Melanie Navarrete, a mom.

Navarrete has three kids. With the rising cost of nearly everything, she says, it’s not easy having to pack food for them all.

The program is part of Assembly Bill 130 signed into law by Governor Newsom last July, making California the first state to offer free meals to all kids.

“You can’t say no to food. You never know about some of those kids. Some of those kids may not have families that can provide,” said Star Bales who is a grandma.

According to Feeding America, last year about 1 in 6 children in the U.S. experienced food insecurity. Here in San Diego, 13% of children don’t know where their next meal is coming from, and data shows about 30% of them are likely ineligible for federal nutrition programs.

The meal program is state and federally funded.

Shortly after California okayed free school lunches, Maine became the second state in the country to implement a similar program.

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