High support exists among parents of all income levels for School Meals for All in California

Apr 8, 2024

In a recent research brief, Nutrition Policy Institute researchers highlight the benefits of California's School Meals for All program which offers breakfast and lunch to all K-12 students at public and charter schools every instructional day, at no charge, regardless of household income. The program began in the 2022-2023 school year after temporary federal pandemic funding for universal meals ended. Prior to the pandemic, household income determined school meal charges. The brief shares findings from a 2023 NPI survey examining parents' perceptions regarding the policy's impact. Among a diverse representation of all income levels and ethnic groups, 80% of all parents were in support. Christina Hecht, NPI's senior policy advisor,  presented these findings and other NPI research on School Meals for All to the California State Assembly Budget Subcommittee on Education Finance on Wednesday, March 20, 2024. In her public testimony, Hecht  explained that “...65% of parents across all income levels believe the School Meals For All program reduces stigma for their child about eating a school meal.” Findings can inform further efforts to continue the expansion of California's School Meals For All program to reduce financial strain, food insecurity, stress, and stigma among families. The research was led by Dania Orta-Aleman, Christina Hecht, Monica Zuercher, Ken Hecht, Samantha Sam-Chen, Lorrene Ritchie, and Wendi Gosliner from NPI and Juliana Cohen from Merrimack College.

By Brianna Aguayo Villalon
Author - Student Communications Fellow
By Christina E Hecht
Editor - UC ANR Nutrition Policy Institute Academic Coordinator
By Lorrene Ritchie
Contributor - Director of Research
By Dania Orta
By Danielle Lee
Contributor - Director of Communications & Research Engagement