California Bill Would Provide Free Meals to All Preschoolers


California lawmakers are seeking to provide free school lunches for daycare providers—expanding upon the state’s meal program that will make breakfast and lunch free for K–12 students.

Sen. Josh Becker (D-Peninsula) introduced Senate Bill (SB) 1481 on Feb. 18 that, if passed, would require the state to provide reimbursement for two meals daily for daycare facilities as long as they abide by nutrition standards, according to the bill.

“California’s youngest children cannot be left out of our state’s groundbreaking meals policy to tackle food insecurity among learners,” Becker said in a statement.

The current reimbursement amount for providers caps at 75 percent of the meal cost, with $34 million in unreimbursed amounts annually, according to Becker’s office.

The proposed law is intended to help providers who have been hit by the COVID-19 pandemic while also leaving more income in the pockets of childcare providers.

While the bill has yet to be heard by the state senate, it is favored by some childcare providers and lawmakers in the state.

“I have noticed a significant difference in the quality of food for the children,” childcare provider of 27 years Georgia Stalions said in a statement. “The Food with Care Bill would greatly help me to serve high quality food.”

Thirteen state lawmakers are supporting the legislation, especially legislators in rural areas that view this bill as being a “saving grace.”

“All young people should be free from the stress of explaining their circumstances when seeking nourishment,” Co-author Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R-Palmdale) said in a statement.

SB 1481 arrives shortly after the passing of SB 364 in Jan. 2022, which allowed for students K–12 to receive free meals.

The pending Senate bill is expected to be heard in the spring.

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Vanessa Serna is a California-based daily news reporter for The Epoch Times.



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