California Universal Meals – School Nutrition (CA Dept of Education)


Beginning in the 2022-2023 school year (SY), California will be the first state to implement a nationwide universal nutrition program for schoolchildren. The Universal Meals Program of California (Universal Meals) is based on the federal National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and the School Breakfast Program (SBP). In order for the program to be successful, three main pillars were created:

  • The first pillar: California’s mandate for nutrition is expanding to include both breakfast and lunch not only for children in need, but for all children each school day.
  • The second pillar: schools with high poverty rates will have to participate in federal regulations.
  • Degree Three: The California Legislature is allocating funds to supplement public nutrition compensation to cover the cost of the universal nutrition program.


On July 9, 2021, Governor Newsom signed the Assembly Bill (AB) 130 (McGuire) Financing Education: A Budget Budget Trailer Bill. Beginning with SY 2022-23, AB 130 establishes the California Universal Nutrition Program with changes in state nutrition mandates and new requirements for high-poverty schools to apply to the California Department of Education Regulations: Alternative Requirements web page.

In addition, a one-time funding of $ 150 million was allocated in 2021-22 SY to support the modernization of kitchen infrastructure and training of staff on nutrition in areas as they prepare for the introduction of universal nutrition. For more information, visit the Kitchen Infrastructure and Training Funds website.

AB 130
can be found on the California Legislative Information website. An external link will open in a new window or tab.

The California Department of Education (CDE) is committed to working with sponsors on the successful implementation of universal nutrition in SY 2022-23. We will continue to release updates, provide resources, including frequently asked questions, offer training and audition sessions, request feedback from sponsors, cover best practices for gathering necessary federal revenue information, and issue formal policy recommendations, including management bulletins.

Renewing the public nutrition mandate

Starting with SY 2022–2023, Education Code (EC) 49501.5 requires public school districts, district education departments, and statutory schools serving TK-12 students to provide free two meals a day (breakfast and lunch) during each school day to students requesting meals, regardless of their free or reduced-price meals. – the price of the right to food.

Federal requirements for participation

June 30, 2022 or earlier, EC 49564.3 requires local educational agencies (LEAs) with high-poverty schools to adopt a federal universal food service, such as the Community Rights Regulations (CEP) or Regulations 2. A school is considered poor if a certain percentage of students (ISPs) have completed 40 percent. which means that 40 percent of enrolled students are determined to be eligible for free or discounted school meals through direct certification or identification as homeless, migrants, foster or fugitives.

Additional state compensation for food

The CDE will reimburse the LEA for all non-reimbursable expenses accrued in providing meals to students subject to federal reimbursement, as long as the LEA participates in federal school breakfast and national school lunch programs and serves reimbursable food to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The LEA will still need to comply with federal regulations and guidelines, as Universal Meals is designed to complement rather than replace federal school nutrition programs.

Pad EC 49501.5, the amount of compensation for food costs will not exceed the difference between federal and state rates of free compensation. Additional government compensation will be provided for discounted and paid meals to ensure that LEAs receive the same compensation for these food categories as for meals at a free compensation rate.


We work with attorneys and nutrition partners to gather feedback and input, including through audition sessions, while we prepare to issue formal policy recommendations. Politics will happen.


Universal Meals requires all county public schools, county education departments, and statutory schools with high-poverty schools to adopt federal regulations, such as the Community Rights Regulation (CEP) or Regulation 2, by June 30, 2022.

High-poverty schools are defined as any school grounds with an identified student percentage (ISP) of at least 40 percent. The school’s ISP is determined by dividing the number of students who have received direct certification, including those students who are certified as foster students, homeless, migrants, refugees, or participating in Head Start programs, by the total number of students enrolled. For example, if the total number of students on a school website is 500, and 250 of them are eligible for meals through direct certification, the school website provider is 50 percent.

Provision of the right to participate in the community

CEP is a four-year reimbursement option for schools with a high poverty rate. The district can decide whether they want school sites to participate in CEP individually, whether they want to bring some schools together to qualify, or whether they want the entire district to participate. This compensation option is based solely on direct certification data, which means that agencies working with CEP do not need to collect food applications at home.

Compensation under the CEP is determined by multiplying the ISP by a factor of 1.6 (a number set by the U.S. Department of Agriculture). This is the percentage of food that can be obtained at a free rate. Participation in the CEP could bring in extra federal dollars to the state and reduce the fiscal burden. Federal compensation is based on the percentage of students who are directly certified. And under the Universal Nutrition Program, government reimbursement will cover the cost of any food claimed at the rate of compensation paid.

Applications for CEP are accepted until June 30 each year. For information on how to apply for CEP, contact your School Nutrition Specialist by visiting the School Nutrition Specialists Web page.

For more information on CEP, please visit the Community website.

Provision 2

Regulation 2 is another option that can be applied for by local educational institutions with a high level of poverty to meet the requirements of universal nutrition. Regulation 2 requires the use of free and preferential food applications, but reduces the frequency of collection and processing of applications to once every four years.

Regulation 2 is submitted until June 30 of each year. For information on how to apply for Regulation 2, contact your School Nutrition Specialist by visiting the School Nutrition Specialists Web page.

For more information on Regulation 2, please visit the Regulations: Alternatives requirements web page.


Listening sessions

The Department of Nutrition Services (NSD) is conducting a series of Universal Meals audition sessions, starting with SY 2022-23. Listening sessions provide an overview of universal nutrition, review all frequently asked questions, and include best practices from school catering operators. Registration information for participating in live listening webinars can be found on the NSD Nutrition What’s New California Department of Education (CDE) web page on the Learning tab.

Please note: It takes about four to six weeks to record a webinar to listen to.

Online training databases

To find additional online trainings, visit:

Resources Description
Community Law (CEP) CEP provides sponsors of the school nutrition program with an alternative method of requiring student nutrition in schools with high poverty rates.

CEP Guide
An external link will open in a new window or tab.

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) CEP Operation Guide. This includes instructions for frequently asked questions.

Questions and Answers CEP USDA (Q&A) An external link will open in a new window or tab. (PDF)

Provides additional USDA recommendations and general CEP questions.

Local Education Agencies (LEAs) involved in CEP

List of LEAs currently participating in CEP. This list is periodically updated based on the most current information.

CEP contact list

List and contact information for first CEP users.

Regulation 2 of the Guide An external link will open in a new window or tab. (PDF)

USDA Operating Instructions Regulations 2. This includes instructions for frequently asked questions.

Provision 2

Regulation 2 is a method of reducing paperwork and other administrative burdens at the local level by simplifying traditional operating procedures for obtaining the right to food and food counting.

Position 2 Training Video
An external link will open in a new window or tab.

By completing this interactive learning module, you will learn about the important fundamentals and benefits of Regulation 2, as well as what is required of school nutrition authorities when they apply for Regulation 2 and obtain permission to participate in Regulation 2.

Contact CalFresh County for direct certification

Contact list of local welfare or social services to verify participation in CalFresh for direct certification of students. LEAs should contact their counties to make sure they have an accurate identified student percentage (ISP).

Regional offices for the education of migrants

Contact list of the Office of Migrant Education. If the LEA has migrant students, they should contact the Migrant Education Department to certify these students and make sure they have an accurate ISP.

Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) Q&A

In order for students to be eligible for free or discounted meals for LCFF purposes, students must meet eligibility criteria for NSLP through an approved NSLP application or an alternative form of family income data collection, be directly certified to receive free meals, or be eligible for free meals. categorically right.

School Nutrition Handbook
Department of Food Service. School Nutrition Programs Specialists who manage nutrition and milk programs offered in public and private nonprofit schools and children’s boarding schools.

Frequently Asked Questions

For a list of frequently asked questions, visit the Universal Meal FAQ page.

Contact us

If you have any questions, please contact the California Department of Education’s Nutrition Department at

Subscribe to the school meals program mailing list.

Angela Blackney | 916-445-5723

Last checked: Tuesday, February 15, 2022

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