HomeCaliforniaSenate Education Committee Approves SB 1080: “Every student deserves to feel supported…”

Senate Education Committee Approves SB 1080: “Every student deserves to feel supported…”

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Sacramento, California – In a significant move to support dietary diversity and inclusivity in schools, the Senate Education Committee approved the Halal and Kosher School Meals Act, known as Senate Bill 1080 (SB 1080), with a unanimous vote of 7-0. This decision aligns with the conclusion of Ramadan and the start of Passover, ensuring that schools with many students who follow halal or kosher food rules will offer these meal choices.

Introduced by Senator Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), the bill underscores the necessity of accessible, nutritious meals that respect students’ religious and cultural dietary needs, especially during major religious festivals.

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“Every student deserves to feel supported and included at school,” said Senator Newman, who also chairs the Senate Education Committee. “Kids shouldn’t have to choose between hunger and adhering to their religious beliefs. SB 1080 creates a more equitable system for students who observe halal or kosher dietary practices. When suitable meals aren’t available for these students, they often have to go without eating at school, something that is fundamentally unfair and clearly detrimental to their educational experience.”

Both halal and kosher diets adhere to religious guidelines regarding food preparation and permissible ingredients.

  • Kosher meals adhere to Jewish dietary law, which involves specific animal selection, preparation methods, and the prohibition of mixing meat and dairy.
  • Halal meals are considered permissible under Islamic law. They include meat from animals slaughtered in a specific manner and exclude foods like pork.

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A large number of Jewish individuals follow kosher dietary rules. According to a 2021 study by the Pew Research Center, about 22% of American Jews maintain kosher homes. Another study in 2021 by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU) indicated that 83% of American Muslims either exclusively buy halal-certified foods or prefer them, though they sometimes buy non-certified options if they are not religiously prohibited.

Starting in the 2025-2026 school year, under Senate Bill 1080 (SB 1080), schools with more than 5% of their students preferring halal or kosher meals will be required to provide these options. The legislation also permits schools to conduct surveys to understand students’ food preferences better.

“There have been various times where at school I had to skip out on eating lunch because, by the time I got through the lunch line, everything I could eat was out,” said Rosa Haideri, a Muslim student from the Elk Grove Unified School District who testified at the hearing. “Offering halal foods is significant to ensure respect for the dietary needs of Muslim students. It creates an environment where all students feel valued but also promotes and celebrates the religious diversity in our schools here in California, fostering a sense of belonging and equality.”

“I’m looking forward to helping the state of California provide every K-12 student the opportunity to get food in the cafeteria,” said Rabbi Evan Rubin of Kenesset Israel Torah Center and president of the Sacramento Board of Rabbis.

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SB 1080 represents another important step in increasing equity in our school meals. The bill now advances to the Senate Appropriations Committee.

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