SB 364

The Free School Meals for All Act

Budget Update!

Thanks to our partners and champions in the legislature, Governor Newsom’s historic budget included a $650 million dollar ongoing investment to make California the first state in the nation to provide free, universal meals to all K-12 students! This is a huge step towards ensuring no student goes hungry, especially with the dramatic increase in food insecurity due to the ongoing pandemic.

  • Introduced
  • CA Senate Committee
  • Senate Floor Vote
  • CA Assembly Committee
  • Assembly Floor Vote
  • Bill Passed
  • Bill Signed

Summary of the Bill

  • Ensures all kids have access to nutritious, locally grown food by providing free breakfast and lunch at school
  • Establishes the Better Out of School Time (BOOST) Nutrition Program to prevent child hunger during school breaks

Background: Food Insecurity in California

Food insecurity means a lack of consistent access to enough food to live a healthy, active lifestyle. This can be a temporary situation resulting from a specific circumstance, or an issue that affects a household for an indefinite amount of time. Currently, 6.2 million households in California don’t have regular access to nutritious food. Black and Latino households experience food insecurity at a rate twice as high as white households. The federal government allowed free school meals for all to meet the urgent need caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, but this program is set to expire at the end of the 2021-22 school year. We need to have permanent measures to ensure every child has the proper nutrition to support their development, behavior, and ability to learn.

SB 364’s Proposed Solutions

By providing healthy food made with California-grown items, all K-12 children would receive the nutrients they need, even during school breaks and closures. This bill also supports our state’s farmers in the process by using fresh ingredients to prepare the meals. SB 364 aims to end “lunch shaming” — which can lead to bullying, shaming, and isolation — by providing food for all students, not just those who need it, based on their family’s income.

Download the fact sheet

California has always been a leader in creating models for progressive change. NextGen California applauds Senator Skinner for introducing this important measure, which will help to ensure that no student goes hungry in our state — this food insecurity crisis has only been exacerbated by the ongoing global pandemic. Providing healthy, freshly prepared free school meals for every student will not only prioritize equity but end ‘lunch shaming’ practices that can lead to bullying and students skipping lunch altogether.

Tiffany Germain, Research and Policy Advisor, NextGen Policy

Our Focus on Food Insecurity

Fighting to ensure that every Californian has access to healthy, nutritious food by focusing on the issues of student hunger and food deserts as well as providing healthy school meals.

More on Food Insecurity

Tiffany Germain

Research & Policy Advisor

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