With inflation and food insecurity on the rise, California education leaders are helping to ease parents' minds by ensuring that school lunches will be available for their children.

On average, 1 out of every 6 Californians does not know where their next meal will come from.

And on July 1, California became the first state in the nation to offer free school meals to all children, regardless of family income. The new legislation, which was championed by Governor Jerry Brown, provides universal breakfast and lunch for students in public and charter schools.

It will begin in the 2022-2023 school year and is part of the historic state budget agreement reached between Gov. Gavin Newsom and the Legislature last month.

“We’ve completely leveled the playing field when it comes to school food,” said Erin Primer, director of food and nutrition services for the San Luis Coastal Unified School District.

Funding comes from the department of education and the program is a part of state Assembly Bill 130, which focuses on education finance.

Maine is set to become the second state to offer a universal school meals program within days of signing its budget.

In addition to helping families save money on groceries, these universal school meal programs are also seen as a way to reduce childhood obesity and improve academic performance.

It's being celebrated as a big win for the district and the students in California and Maine. And it's hoped that other states will follow suit in the near future.