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.
- 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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