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State Superintendent Tony Thurmond Approves $585 Million to Upgrade School Kitchens

April 26, 2023

SACRAMENTO – State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond has approved $585 million from funds in the state budget to provide upgrades to school kitchens in California and provide freshly prepared, healthy meals to all students and support student health and well-being.

“Our schools and their dedicated food service staff have been on the front lines of providing meals since the first day of the pandemic—serving meals in their communities to ensure students and children in care have access to healthy meals. We are incredibly grateful for their work,” said Thurmond. “Schools and staff must have the proper equipment needed in order to serve our students, and funding through the state budget allows us to make significant upgrades to tools and equipment. No child should have to worry about access to a meal, especially during a school day. No child should go hungry.”

Assembly Bill 181 (Education Finance: Education Omnibus budget trailer bill) apportioned $600 million from the General Fund to the California Department of Education (CDE) for kitchen infrastructure upgrades, equipment, and food service staff training for eligible local educational agencies, which are defined as public school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools. In January, the Governor’s proposed budget included an amendment to designate a set aside of $15 million in 2022 Kitchen Infrastructure and Training funds for school commercial dishwasher purchases. The CDE is awarding $585 million now and will distribute the remaining $15 million following the completed 2023 state budget process.

Thurmond sponsored Universal Meals legislation as a key part of his Transforming California Schools initiatives and continues to advocate for increased funding for farm-to-school programs that support local purchasing and improve the quality and freshness of school meals. He has championed efforts to make sure students in California and across the country can access healthy, nutritious school meals.

Last July, California became the first state in the nation to implement a Universal Meals Program under which all children are eligible to receive a free breakfast and lunch regardless of their individual eligibility. Under the Universal Meals Program, public schools, county offices of education, and charter schools can offer breakfast and lunch to all students, including during summer school. For more information about the California Universal Meals Program, visit the CDE California Universal Meals web page.