“I thought it was a pipe dream for a long time,” said Sen. Nancy Skinner, a longtime advocate for universal free meals.
Backed by over 200 organizations in a coalition called “School Meals for All,” Skinner and other lawmakers pushed for funding in the state budget, seizing the momentum at a time when California is flush with cash. The $262 billion budget provides $54 million for the coming school year, supplementing funding from the Biden administration through June 2022. After that, California will spend $650 million annually.
“If you’re a hungry child, you’re not going to learn well,” said Skinner, a Democrat representing Berkeley. “Why should we have to go through a bureaucratic hassle to get a kid fed, when we could just have universal meals?”
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