San Francisco to offer public school students free meals
San Francisco Unified School District students can continue receiving free breakfast and lunch this school year, regardless of their family's income.
Why it matters: Healthy eating is linked to better grades and test scores, but 12.5% of kids in California are food insecure, according to Feeding America.
- Meanwhile, food prices are on the rise, hitting their highest annual rate of growth (10.9%) in about 43 years, Axios' Nathan Bomey reports.
Details: SFUSD schools will offer a "nutritionally balanced" breakfast with fresh fruit and milk, 20-30 minutes before school starts.
- To get a free lunch, schools will require students to pick a fruit or vegetable to go with their entree.
- A.P. Giannini Middle School (my alma mater), for example, is offering students the choice of a turkey sandwich, a Greek chicken quesadilla, or an individual cheese pizza for lunch on the first day of school on Tuesday.
- Applications are not necessary.
State of play: The free meal offering is a result of California Assembly Bill 130, which Gov. Gavin Newsom signed into law last year.
- The law applies to public school districts, county offices of education and charter schools serving students in grades transitional K-12.
- Prior to the passage of the law, a family of four's income could not exceed $34,060 annually to qualify for free student meals, and not more than $48,470 to qualify for reduced-price meals.
- SFUSD offered free meals to students for the first time last school year thanks to financial support from the U.S. Department of Agriculture in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The support that made it possible for schools to offer free meals, however, expired in June.
Zoom out: Maine last year approved a similar program that will go into effect this school year.
What they're saying: "When children are able to eat healthy meals during their school day, they're better positioned to achieve," Alexandra Emmott, interim executive director of SFUSD Nutrition Services, said in a statement.
Flashback: From 1969 through the early '70s, the Black Panthers' Free Breakfast for School Children fed tens of thousands of kids nationwide.
- The USDA's free breakfast efforts, which launched in the mid-1960s, "only took off" in the early 1970s, around the time the federal government dismantled the Black Panther Party.
- Norma Amour Mtume, a former Black Panther Party member, said in 2016: "I really do believe that the government [expanded] their program because of the work we were doing."
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