This coming fall in California, all 6.2 million public school students will have the option of free school meals regardless of family income. The universal meal program was made possible through a coalition of 200 organizations called "School Meals for All" and lawmakers pushing for the use of an unexpected budget surplus and federal funding. This means families will no longer need to fill out applications, provide qualifications or answer questions, a great step toward families feeling at ease when it comes to getting a nutritious meal. Before, many families were afraid to receive free meals due to stigmas around receiving free lunch, fears of deportation, and -- for students -- fears of being singled out for needing food aid. Before, is a family made a few hundred dollars, they made too much to qualify. The universal program is already seeing relief among families. "It might seem like a little bit," said Tina Self, a mother of three who had to pay $3.00 for school lunch every day, "but it helps a lot." "If you're a hungry child, you're not going to learn well," said Sen. Nancy Skinner, a Democrat representing Berkeley. "Why should we have to go through a bureaucratic hassle to get a kid fed, when we could just have universal meals?"

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