OLYMPIA — A bill to increase students’ access to free meals was heard in the Senate Early Learning & K-12 Education Committee Monday. 

Senate Bill 5964, sponsored by Sen. T’wina Nobles (D-Fircrest), would require all school districts to provide breakfast and lunch without charge to any requesting students, beginning with the 2024-25 school year. 

Nobles said for current free school meals programs, income eligibility for a household of four is $55,500 — this means two parents making minimum wage would be ineligible. While the cost of school meals for a family with two kids in middle school is $260. 

“With the ongoing rise in food costs, school meals have become a crucial lifeline for families, and access is more essential now than ever before,” said Nobles, a former educator. “To advance every student’s chance at success, we need to ensure their attention will be on their education and not where their next meal is coming from.”   

Follow the bill’s progress here.