School Meals for All
California is among the first in the nation to adopt a “universal school meals” program offering breakfast and lunch to all K-12 students at public and charter schools every instructional day, at no charge, regardless of household income. California’s program begins in the 2022-23 school year, as federal funding of temporary universal school meals through the Seamless Summer Option and USDA waivers allowing flexibility during the COVID-19 pandemic end.
The Nutrition Policy Institute was funded to conduct formative, process and impact evaluation through CA SB 170 (2021). The latest news, research briefs and publications from this evaluation are included below.
School Meals for All in California: Benefits and Challenges During COVID and Beyond as Reported by School Food Services
Hecht C, Zuercher M, Hecht K, Gosliner W, Ritchie L. University of California, Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute. 23 August 2022.
- School Meals for All in California: Time to Eat Can Be a Barrier to Full Participation
Hecht C, Bacon K, Chapman L, Chelius C, Olarte D, Orta-Aleman D, Zuercher M, Hecht K, Ritchie L, Cohen JFW and Gosliner W. University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute. 19 April 2023.
- School Meals for All in California: Parents Value School Meals for All and Offer Suggestions to Strengthen Meal Programs
Hecht C, Hecht K, Zuercher M, Ritchie L, Gosliner W. Research Brief: Nutrition Policy Institute, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources. 9 May 2023.
- School Meals for All: Farm Fresh Food
Orta-Aleman D, Chelius C, Bacon K, Hecht C, Hecht K, Zuercher M, Ritchie L, Gosliner W. Nutrition Policy Institute, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources. 20 June 2023.
- The Many Benefits of School Meals for All
Nutrition Policy Institute, University of California, Agriculture and Natural Resources. Arizona State University, College of Health Solutions. University of Connecticut, Rudd Center. Merrimack College. Boise State University, College of Education. 29 August 2023.
Cohen JF, Polacsek M, Hecht CE, Hecht K,Read M, Olarte DA, Patel AI, Schwartz MB, Turner L, Zuercher M, Gosliner W, Ritchie LD. Implementation of Universal School Meals during COVID-19 and beyond: Challenges and Benefits for School Meals Programs in Maine. Nutrients, volume 14, issue 19, article 4031, 28 September 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14194031
Zuercher MD, Cohen JFW, Hecht CE, Hecht K, Ritchie LD, Gosliner W. Providing School Meals to All Students Free of Charge During the COVID-19 Pandemic and Beyond: Challenges and Benefits Reported by School Foodservice Professionals in California. Nutrients, volume 14, issue 18, article 3855, 17 September 2022. DOI: https://doi.org/10.3390/nu14183855
In the News
Los Angeles Times - Gran reto logístico implica los alimentos gratis en las escuelas. ¿Cómo resolverlo? (15 September 2022)
The New York Times - What if Every Kid Got a Free Lunch? (19 January 2023, print only)
Learn more about our national team evaluating universal school meal policies across the nation.
Learn more about which states are implementing universal school meal policies.