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California public schools will be required to offer free meals to students

Gov. Newsom signed into law a new piece of legislation that guarantees all students will receive lunch even if their parents or guardians have not paid their meal fees.

Posted: Oct 15, 2019 12:54 PM
Updated: Oct 15, 2019 1:00 PM

CALIFORNIA - Governor Newsom signed into law a new piece of legislation that guarantees all students will receive lunch even if their parents or guardians have not paid their meal fees. 

"I think it is an issue. There's a lot of kids where the only meals they get are the meals they get through the schools," Trinette Samson, a parent who spoke with Action News Now said.

That's where a new law signed by Gov. Newsom comes into play, addressing a key issue in the cafeterias. Director of Nutrition, Vince Enserro spoke with Action News Now about lunch shaming.

"Meal shaming and not stopping a child from eating, which we never do in our department or our district."

The Chico Unified School District says they've been ahead of the curve, they said they haven't charged any students on the reduced program for the past two years.

"We don't ask questions, we don't meal shame we don't ask about how much money they owe on their account," Enserro said. "We're just able to feed the kids and push them through the lines."

Samson said she gets why this bill is a good idea.

"Cause all you're focusing on is when do I get to eat next," Samson said. "what is my next meal, instead of focusing on the instruction that the teacher is trying to give you."

As Enserro said this initiative won't come without its challenges.

"Unfortunately, it costs us quite a bit of money because it's hard for us to turn around and recoup that money from the parents when they don't reply to our emails, reply to our phone calls," Enserro said.

The legislation also addresses ways to effectively let parents or guardians know if they have a negative balance. 

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