Riccelli’s Expanded Free School Meals Bill Passes Legislature

OLYMPIA – After the House accepted amendments from the Senate, the Legislature has approved Rep. Marcus Riccelli’s (D-Spokane) HB 1238 to expand the state’s free school meals program.

Under the final bill, HB 1238 expands access to the existing free school meals program to 90,000 students in Washington who previously did not qualify for the program.

“This is another step forward toward our goal of providing a healthy, nutritious meal to every student in our public schools. Consistent access to nutritious food is a part of how we protect kids from getting sick while ensuring they have the fuel they need to learn, grow, and play. We will continue to push for universal meals, but in the meantime, 90,000 more students will get free breakfast and lunch and I am so happy that we can expand the program for those kids,” said Riccelli.

When HB 1238 is implemented, over half of all of Washington’s over 1.1 million K-12 students will qualify for free school meals.

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), and through Representative Riccelli’s legislation requiring more schools to participate in the USDA Community Eligibility Program (CEP) in 2020 (HB 2660), and his follow up bill providing funding to more schools required to participate in CEP as recently as 2020 (HB 1878).

HB 1238 now heads to the governor for approval.