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California to provide free meals to all public school students regardless of income

school lunch

MONTEREY, Calif. (KION) Because of the state budget surplus, California is providing all public school students free meals, regardless of income.

MPUSD Superintendent, PK Diffenbaugh, celebrated the decision and said the change will affect MPUSD students during the current school year.

During the pandemic, school districts handed out free meals and witnessed the great need. MPUSD Superintendent, PK Diffenbaugh, said the move will help remove some negativity associated with receiving free breakfast or lunch.

"I think it's going to benefit a lot of kids who feel a social stigma about getting free lunch. They may not sign up for it. Some kids may not want to eat lunch at school cause they feel like it's not cool and now it's open to everyone. It's going to be a real breathing for our kids," said Diffenbaugh.

Diffenbaugh says close to 70 percent of families qualify for free and reduced lunch within the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District. The bill that will help feed California's children, which around sixty percent qualify for a free and reduced meal, has bipartisan support from lawmakers. Taxpayers and teachers KION spoke with support the effort to keep any child from skipping a meal and consider it part of their academic needs to succeed. 

"It's good that you know you can provide food for every child because they're going to a learning institution, they're learning and they're doing what they're supposed to be doing. They should at least be provided with food," said Michael Alonzo, a resident.

"I think it's important that students come to school well-fed. You can learn if you're hungry so I think It's a great thing," said Abraham Leach, a teacher.

A coalition of 200 organizations pushed for this program is also expected to help children whose parents maybe undocumented who may have feared filling out an application for reduced lunch because of intrusive questions.

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Stephanie Aceves

Stephanie Aceves is a former multi-media journalist at KION News Channel 5/46.


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