California bill that would ban certain additives in school meals clears State Assembly

Also in this week’s K-12 legislative update: Iowa announces summer meal site grant recipients and Delaware bill that would expand free school meal access takes another step forward to becoming a law.
Students eating lunch at school
If passed, A.B. 2316 would ban titanium dioxide and six food dyes in California school meals. | Photo: Shutterstock

It’s been an active week at the state level for school nutrition legislation. A bill in California that would ban a handful of additives in school meals has cleared the State Assembly and grant funding for summer meals programs has been awarded in Iowa. Meanwhile in Delaware, a bill that would expand free school meal access is one step closer to becoming a law.

Here’s a recap of what you may have missed.

California school meals additives bill heads to the Senate

A bill in California that would ban the use of certain food additives and dyes in school meals has cleared the state Assembly.

If passed, A.B. 2316 would ban titanium dioxide and six food dyes (Red 40, Yellow 5, Yellow 6, Blue 1, Blue 2 and Green 3) in school meals. Food items sold at school as part of a fundraising event would be omitted from the law.

The bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Jesse Gabriel, cites a 2021 report by the California Environmental Protection Agency (CalEPA) as the reason for introducing the legislation. The report found that consuming synthetic dyes can cause neurobehavior problems in some children.

A.B. 2316 now heads to the Senate.

Iowa awards summer meal site grant funding

The Iowa Department of Education has announced which recipients will receive grant funding to expand the amount of summer meal sites in the state.

The state announced the grant program last month, which will award close to $900,000 in funding to thirty-eight school districts and other organizations. According to the state, the grant program will support 61 new summer meal sites in areas not previously served.

“Through partnerships with schools and community-based providers, the Summer Meal Expansion Grant builds upon family-focused solutions to support child nutrition and well-being in the summer,” said Iowa Department of Education Director McKenzie Snow in a statement. “We commend the awardees for their leadership in growing the reach and impact of these programs, providing children with no-cost, healthy meal options in enriching environments this summer and beyond.”

Iowa was one of several states to turn down participating in the USDA’sSummer EBT program which provides low-income families with money to buy food during the summer months when children aren’t in school. 

Under Summer EBT, families receive $40 per child each month while school is not in session. The federal government covers the benefit costs associated with the program, but participating states are responsible for paying half of the administrative costs.

The USDA first introduced Summer EBT during the pandemic. It became a permanent program after the passage of the Consolidated Appropriations Act.

Delaware reduced-price school meals bill passes another hurdle  

A bill in Delaware that would expand free school meal access in the state is one step further to becoming a law.

H.B. 125 which would provide free breakfast and lunch at school to students who qualify for reduced-price meals has passed the House Appropriations Committee. The bill now heads to the full House floor for a vote.

Originally, the bill would have provided free meals at school to all students, regardless of their family’s financial background. The original legislation was deemed too costly, however, and was substituted with the current bill last month.

See which states currently offer universal free meals via the map below:



More from our partners