AB 130, Universal Meals
On July 9, 2021, Assembly Bill (AB) 130 (McGuire) Education finance: education omnibus budget trailer bill was signed into law by Governor Newsom. The bill provides additional Proposition 98 funding to address the increase in meals served through the Seamless Summer Option that are eligible for the state meal reimbursement in the 2021–22 School Year (SY). Beginning in SY 2022–23, the budget trailer bill establishes a California Universal Meals Program with changes to the state meal mandate and high poverty schools applying for Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) or Provision 2. Finally, there is $150 million in one-time funding to support kitchen infrastructure and nutrition staff training.
AB 130 can be found on the California Legislative Information web page.
The California Department of Education (CDE) is committed to working with stakeholders on the successful implementation of Universal Meals in SY 2022–23. We will continue to release updates, provide web page resources including frequently asked questions, offer training and listening sessions, solicit stakeholder feedback, highlight best practices for collecting the federally required income information, and issue formal policy guidance including management bulletins.
SY 2021–22 State Reimbursement
California Education Code (EC) 49501.5 was updated to include $0.2487 for each reimbursable breakfast and lunch served under the Seamless Summer Feeding Option in SY 2021–22.
Kitchen Infrastructure and Training Funding SY 2021–22
In the 2021–22 state fiscal year, the Legislature appropriated $150 million to the CDE to issue kitchen infrastructure and training funds to local educational agencies (LEA). Of the $150 million, $120 million is available for kitchen upgrades to increase student access or improve the quality of fresh and nutritious school meals. The remaining $30 million is available for food service staff to receive training on promoting nutritious meals, which may include food preparation, healthy food marketing, and the school lunch environment.
More information on these funds and reporting requirements is forthcoming.
Universal Meals SY 2022–23
Commencing in SY 2022–23, EC 49501.5 requires public school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools serving students in grades K–12 to provide two meals free of charge (breakfast and lunch) during each school day to students requesting a meal, regardless of their free or reduced-price meal eligibility.The CDE will reimburse LEAs for all nonreimbursed expenses accrued in providing federally reimbursable meals to students, as long as the LEA participates in the federal School Breakfast and National School Lunch Programs and serves U.S Department of Agriculture reimbursable meals. LEAs will still be required to abide by federal regulations and guidelines as the California Universal Meals Program is meant to supplement, not supplant, the federal school nutrition programs.
Under EC 49501.5, the per meal reimbursement amount will not exceed the difference between the federal and state free reimbursement rates. State reimbursements will be provided for reduced-price and paid meals to ensure LEAs receive the same reimbursement for those meal categories as they would for meals served at the free reimbursement rate.
Universal Meal Provisions
On or before June 30, 2022, EC 49564.3 requires LEAs with high poverty schools to adopt a universal meal service provision, such as the CEP or Provision 2. The definition of a high poverty school is updated to mean 40 percent of enrolled students are directly certified, or identified as homeless, migrant, foster, or runaway (otherwise known as identified student population).
For additional information on the CEP, please refer to the CDE CEP web page. For additional information on Provision 2, please refer to the Provision 2 tab on the CDE Provisions: Claiming Alternatives web page.
If you have any questions regarding Universal Meals, please submit them to the Nutrition Services Division’s Universal Meals inbox at UniversalMealsSY22@cde.ca.gov.