State funding will give California school kitchens an upgrade

by ZeuCer

School kitchens throughout California will be getting upgrades after the state announced new funding to provide them with infrastructure and equipment updates.

Elsewhere in the country, lawmakers are trying to make universal free meals a reality and an Oklahoma food insecurity bill was signed into law.

Here’s the latest in school nutrition legislation.

California kitchens to get a makeover

California State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has approved $585 million in state funds to go towards revamping school kitchens.

The funding comes from the passage of Assembly Bill 181, which appropriated $600 million from the state’s General Fund to the California Department of Education (CDE) for kitchen infrastructure upgrades, equipment and foodservice staff training for eligible local educational agencies.

The department is awarding $585 million now and will administer the remaining $15 million after the 2023 state budget process is completed.

“Our schools and their dedicated foodservice staff have been on the front lines of providing meals since the first day of the pandemic—serving meals in their communities to ensure students and children in care have access to healthy meals. We are incredibly grateful for their work,” said Thurmond in a statement. “Schools and staff must have the proper equipment needed in order to serve our students, and funding through the state budget allows us to make significant upgrades to tools and equipment. No child should have to worry about access to a meal, especially during a school day. No child should go hungry.”

California became one of the first states to offer universal free meals to all students each day at school.

Delaware considers universal free meals … 

Delaware is one of the latest states to debut universal free school meals legislation. Introduced by state representative Sherae’a Moore, HB 125 would require schools to serve free breakfast and lunch every day at school.

“As a teacher and a parent, I’ve seen firsthand the impact nutrition has on a student’s ability to succeed,” Moore posted on social media. “When kids have access to healthy, nutritious meals, they are better able to focus in the classroom, perform well on exams, and engage in extracurricular activities. Providing students with free meals at schools isn’t just the right thing to do, it will be life-changing for many of our students and a meaningful step toward education equality.”

… and so does North Carolina

Lawmakers in North Carolina have also introduced a universal free meals bill.

This is the second attempt to make universal free school meals a permanent fixture in the state (a similar bill introduced last year failed to pass a committee).

H844 would provide free school breakfast and lunch daily, and the State Board of Education would be required to allocate the funding for the meals.

In addition, the bill requires charter schools, regional schools, schools for students with visual and hearing impairments, and laboratory schools to provide nutrition services to students.

Rhode Island bill would make several school nutrition changes

Rhode Island State Rep. Teresa Tanzi has introduced H6007, which would provide universal free meals to students and implement several changes to school nutrition programs in the state.

If passed, the bill would require schools to lengthen school meal periods to at least 30 minutes, offer breakfast outside of the cafeteria and provide scratch-made, culturally relevant meals using local ingredients.

“As a society, we take care of our children,” Tanzi said in a statement. “Ensuring they have nutritious, hot meals is the right thing to do, for them, our teachers and our future.”

Oklahoma says no to universal free meals, yes to wider food donation

A bill that would have expanded universal free meal access in Oklahoma has died in the state Senate.

HB 1376 would have required school districts to provide free school meals to students whose family income is less than 250% of the federal poverty level for the next two years.

Meanwhile, a bill allowing school cafeterias and restaurants in the state to donate leftover food without liability was signed into law. The bill was sponsored by Representative Anthony Moore, who hopes it will take aim at food insecurity.

“Unfortunately, the lack of protection from civil action has prevented Oklahoma’s restaurants and school cafeterias from donating perfectly good food to those in need,” Moore said in a statement. “It’s my hope that this legislation will help address food shortage issues within the state and open the door to more restaurants and cafeterias interested in donating leftovers.”

The new law will go into effect this November.

See which states currently offer universal free meals via the map below:



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