Chris Reykdal, the Superintendent of Public Instruction in WA state, basically wants to extend the current Federal free meal program that was in effect during COVID, except the state will foot the bill.

   OSPI introduces a proposal for free meals for all K-12 public school students in WA

During the pandemic federal funding allowed all students to have breakfast and/or lunch at school, but with those programs expiring, says Reykdal, over 330K students are at 'risk' of losing this option.

Thursday morning, Reykdal announced he will formally ask the legislature to introduce a bill (or bills) to extend free food to all students, regardless of their family's financial condition.

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According to the OSPI, current Federal guidelines decide who receives the free food:

"Federal requirements govern student eligibility for free or reduced-price meals. Under current requirements, a family of four with a household income of $51,338 per year would pay around $2,330 per year for their children to have healthy breakfast and lunch provided at school. With universal school meals, all students would eat without fees, regardless of family income status."

According to the OSPI information, during COVID, food service programs were greatly expanded in public schools with what is called the CEP, or Community Eligibility Provision program:

 " With the expansion of CEP, in the 2022–23 school year, over half of Washington’s students will be in a school providing meals to all students at no cost. Reykdal’s proposal asks the Legislature to invest $86 million annually to provide meals at no charge to the 330,000 students not currently eligible for free or reduced-price meals and not attending a CEP school."

Other states that have already adopted this 'universal' food plan are California, Vermont, and Massachusetts.

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