SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Flush with cash from an unexpected budget surplus, California is launching the nation's largest statewide universal free lunch program.
When classrooms open for the fall term, every one of California's 6.2 million public school students will have the option to eat school meals for free, regardless of their family's income.
It is an undertaking that is winning praise as a pioneering way to reduce the stigma and shame of taking a free meal in the school cafeteria.
Some U.S. cities including New York and Boston have similar programs but until recently there were no statewide initiatives. California approved its program last month, and Maine followed soon after with a similar plan.