California’s updated school meal plan means that VUSD students won’t have to fret over lunch costs for the 2022-23 school year
VISALIA – Parents of students won’t have to worry about sparing any change for their child’s school lunches with California’s updated school meal program taking effect for the first time this school year.
Visalia Unified School District (VUSD) will now supply their students with both breakfast and lunch, at no cost to parents, for the first time this school year. This was achieved through funding from the state’s recently updated school meal program which will allow the program to continue for a few more years.
With funding coming from California’s Universal Meals Program, VUSD will be able to continue this development for a few more years, according to staff at the Aug. 9 board meeting. VUSD would also be supportive of this development being continued even further, according to VUSD public information officer Kim Batty.
Prior to the school year, VUSD announced via press release an amendment to their policy, which allows them to serve meals to students under the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. These are both federally funded programs dedicated to supplying students with nutritious meals at reasonable prices. The press release also stated all school sites will operate under the Community Eligibility Provision, a non pricing meal service option that schools in low-come areas can utilize, for the entirety of the 2022-23 school year.
“Under this provision, all enrolled students will be offered breakfast and lunch at no cost at all to Visalia Unified school sites,” the press release stated.
With California becoming the first state to have a statewide Universal Meals Program, schools across the state are also operating under the program, according to the California Department of Education. This came into effect on July 9, 2021, when Gov. Gavin Newsom signed off on Assembly Bill 130, in order to establish a universal meal program serving students from Transitional Kindergarten to grade 12.
According to the California Department of Education (CDE), in order to ensure that the program runs successfully, three key pillars, or tiers, were established. The first pillar states that California’s State Meal Mandate must include both a nutritious and satisfactory breakfast and lunch not only for children that need them, but to all children every school day.
The second pillar states that schools with a high poverty level are required to participate in a federal provision such as the Community Eligibility Provision. Pillar three states that the California State Legislature must distribute funds for additional state meal reimbursement to schools with high poverty levels to ensure costs for the Universal Meals Program is covered.