Washington State House Democrats


Expanded Free School Meals Bill Passes House

OLYMPIA – Over 90,000 students would get access to free school meals under the amended proposal from Rep. Marcus Riccelli (D-Spokane) passed by the House today. HB 1238 as amended by the Appropriations Committee will expand access to free school meals to 90,000 students in Washington who previously did not qualify for the program.

“My goal is one day we provide a healthy, nutritious breakfast and lunch to every student in our public schools, regardless of their ability to pay. This doesn’t get us all the way there, but it is a huge step forward and will make all the difference to those 90,000 kids who otherwise might not know where their next meal would come from,” said Riccelli.

The amended bill no longer makes providing meals a part of basic education but does add elementary schools that do not already offer free meals and 30 percent or more of their students are at the free and reduced lunch percentage. That adds 90,000 elementary school students that would get free meals by 2024.

Legislators have been improving Washington’s school breakfast and lunch program over the last decade by passing Breakfast After the Bell in 2018 (HB 1508), requiring more schools to participate in the USDA Community Eligibility Program (CEP) in 2020 (HB 2660), and providing funding to more schools required to participate in CEP as recently as 2020 (HB 1878).

HB 1238 now heads to the Senate for consideration.