California and CVUSD have begun to provide free school meals for all students this year. Many consider this an impactful move to end food insecurity within the school system and to provide equality for all regardless of financial income. California has been the first state in the nation to make free meals available for all students.
“It is a great initiative to have free meals provided for all students. Many families struggle to put food on the table and children should not have to carry the burden of wondering where their next meal is coming from,” said director of child nutrition Sarah Kimiecik.
Due to the rise in the pandemic this past year, the economic fallout caused child hunger to excel. In the 2019 to 2020 school year, 60 percent of California’s students qualified for a free or reduced lunch. However, with the universal lunch program, students no longer need to meet any requirements to receive free lunch.
California has made history mandating free lunches to all students by helping them strive towards growing up healthy. Not only does it get rid of school lunch debt, it also provides relief for many parents who were worried about their children not being able to eat.
“Leftover food is disposed of due to food safety standards. I work really hard on my meal counts so we don’t have a lot of waste. For example, if we sell out of burritos and not lasagna, the next week I will up my burrito count and lower my lasagna count,” said CVHS cafeteria manager Raquel Gonzalez.
Currently, the federal government pays for all the school meals. By next school year, the state government will reimburse schools for them.
During the 2022-2023 school year, California will invest $650 million for universal free school nutrition. An extra $150 million will be used to improve kitchen infrastructure and nutritional training.
“I have never been unable to pay for school lunch, but I have seen some people not be able to buy lunch because their account wasn’t working which was sad,” said sophomore Vivian Yang. “That’s another reason why free school lunch is good.”