SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson today reported a 32 percent increase in the number of students automatically approved to receive free meals in California schools as a result of collaborative efforts among three state agencies, two legislators and food policy advocates.
In December 2015, the last month complete data are available, the 32 percent increase meant that 326,029 additional students were automatically approved for free school meals in Californias school nutrition programs. That brings the total number of automatically eligible students in the state to 1.3 million.
Students are enrolled in the free meals program each month through a federally mandated “direct certification” process that grants automatic eligibility to students in families already participating in the CalFresh and California Work Opportunity or Responsibility to Kids (CalWORKs) benefit programs without the families having to complete any additional meal applications. Direct certification relieves school districts and low-income families from another administrative burden and helps ensure the most vulnerable children have access to nutritious meals during the school day.