Food and Nutrition for School Children in California

California offers several free and reduced price meals for schools and residential childcare institutions. The purpose of the child nutrition programs in California is to ensure that school-aged children have access to nutritionally balanced meals at a reasonable fee or at no cost. California’s needy children benefit from these free and low-cost meals because the three programs ensure they have healthy, low-cost or free lunch meals on a daily basis. Parents also benefit from the food and nutrition services in California because they can rest assured that their children are getting convenient nutritious meals at a reasonable price. Schools also benefit from food and nutrition services because studies show that when child has a balanced diet, it promotes their physical, emotional and mental health as well as their learning abilities.

The California Department of Education runs California’s School Breakfast Program (SBP). To meet eligibility requirements for SBP, you must be a legal resident of the state and have one or more children who attend elementary, middle or high school. Your family must also have a very low income to qualify for this first meal at no expense. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is a federally funded program that is available throughout California. This food and nutrition service is available to all children who meet the qualifications for school meals at a free or reduced price. Households applying to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistant Program in California may automatically receive SBP benefits once approved.

The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is in place to make sure that children can still have access to good nutrition even when school lets out for summer. The Summer Food Service Program provides free healthy meals and snacks to children in low-income families to ensure they get the nutrition they need to grow throughout the summer months. One or two meals per day are provided at different locations throughout each local county.

Find out more about the child nutrition programs in California by reviewing the below topics.

Three Breakfast and Lunch Programs in California

California offers lunch and breakfast programs in schools throughout the state to provide children with notorious meals at an affordable price. In addition to the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), the California Department of Social Services subsidies the cost of meal services during the summer months. The Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) is beneficial for students who rely on the aforementioned programs during the academic calendar. READ MORE

Breakfast and Lunch Program Eligibility in California

What are the requirements for the school breakfast program and lunch program in California? Eligibility for national school lunch programs, breakfasts and the Summer Food Service Program determines if low-income households can obtain free or discounted meals for school-aged children. Qualifying for school breakfast program and lunch benefits in California means you can focus your income on other important expenses, while knowing your child/children are receiving the necessary nutrition needed to make it through each school day. READ MORE

Breakfast and Lunch Program Applications

California schools send school breakfast program applications and free school lunch applications home at the start of each school year. These applications also explain how to apply for summer food service programs. You may, however, apply for free school meals at any time during the school year by sending in an application with the required details directly to your California school or district. Parents can request free meal applications from their children’s school offices whenever they decide on filing for this type of food assistance. READ MORE


What Kind of Assistance Does the Department of Social Services Offer?

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) provides various types of assistance benefits to residents of the state. Through the CDSS, individuals and families can obtain temporary cash assistance, food assistance and more. Furthermore, applicants who are eligible for the benefits of one CDSS program will often qualify for the assistance benefits of another. Find out everything you need to know about the services and benefits provided by the Department of Social Services by downloading our helpful CDSS guide.


Who Can Benefit From California’s Department of Social Services?

To receive benefits from the CDSS, you and your family will need to meet certain eligibility criteria. The criteria used to determine an applicant’s eligibility typically include income, age, resources and citizenship, among other factors. Find out if you qualify for California DSS assistance benefits here.